This victory meant a lot to the undermanned Golden State Warriors under coach Steve Kerr because they were so close to a playoff spot in the clogged Western Conference standings.
Once again missing three starters, the defending NBA champions relied on veteran Klay Thompson and rookie Donte DiVincenzo to perform admirably on both ends of the court.
The Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-104 on Sunday in a matchup of teams that are closely competing for postseason positioning. Thompson led the way with 32 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with 2:05 remaining.
“This is a huge win not only for the standings but for the confidence of the guys,” Kerr said. “Everyone who entered the game competed and played well, and the team won.”
With 3:02 remaining, DiVincenzo made a 3-pointer to give Golden State the lead for good. He finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. In the last second, he also won a jump ball.
For Minnesota, Naz Reid recorded a career-high 30 points and added nine rebounds, but the Timberwolves have dropped three straight games and four out of five.
Kevon Looney had 17 rebounds and has six games with 13 or more in a row. For a depleted Warriors team, his career-best sixth straight game with double-digit boards was crucial. He finished with 12 points.
“I think it has a huge impact,” Looney said. “Our ability to rebound was, in my opinion, one of our strongest suits last season, particularly in the postseason.”
Before the Warriors rallied behind Thompson, Minnesota led 87-78 heading into the final 12 minutes of play thanks to a 3-pointer by Nickeil Alexander-Walker. After a sluggish start, he came alive in the second half, building on his 42-point performance from Friday night, which matched a season high with 12 3-pointers.
On Sunday, Thompson missed five of his first six long shots. But Thompson’s 3-pointer with 6:11 remaining pulled Golden State within 96-92, and he then followed it up with a baseline jumper under pressure as injured Splash Brother Stephen Curry clapped from the bench.
Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins were all again absent for the Warriors.
DiVincenzo said the team found “heart” down the stretch.
“It’s huge for your confidence,” DiVincenzo said. “Therefore, we are clicking in the second unit when those big dogs return.”
Green’s problematic right knee experienced a setback, and more tests are forthcoming.
“It flared up today, so he will be more thoroughly checked out today by our medical staff,” Kerr said before the game. “He finished his treatment yesterday, and everything appeared to be going well, so it was somewhat unexpected that he had to take a step back today.”
Jordan Poole only made one of six shots in the first quarter, but Golden State has won the last 12 games in a row in the home series. In the first half, the Warriors made just 6 of 20 long-range shots, but they still led 59-57 at the break.
Retired baseball sluggers Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez — a T-Wolves owner — sat together courtside opposite Minnesota’s bench.
Colleague @jchiuAP got this nice shot of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds courtside: pic.twitter.com/FjeizOaSsY — Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) February 27, 2023
LOONEY ON THE GLASS
Since Green had 37 rebounds in 2015–16, Looney has double-digit rebounds in 24 games for Golden State. Andris Biedrins from December was the last Warriors player to have 13 or more rebounds in six straight games. 28, 2008, to Jan. 7, 2009.
“We’ve just come to expect it now. He’s an elite rebounder,” Kerr said.
Timberwolves: Reid had 18 points overall on 7-for-9 shooting and shot 12 for 22 overall. … Minnesota C Rudy Gobert is sick. G Jaylen Nowell is recovering from a left knee injury, and F Taurean Prince is absent due to personal obligations. … Minnesota had recently won two straight away games.
Warriors: Curry, the NBA Finals MVP who is currently out with a left leg injury, has been sidelined for eight straight games. 4. … In order to deal with a family issue, Wiggins missed his fourth straight game. Kerr is unsure of when he will be available again.
Tuesday night’s Timberwolves game against the Los Angeles Clippers is the third of a four-game trip to California.
Warriors: On Tuesday night, they will host the Portland Trail Blazers.