Dribbling between his legs, Warriors guard Stephen Curry sent Timberwolves power forward Jarred Vanderbilt spinning and backpedaling near the left wing.
Before Vanderbilt could regain his footing, Curry had already pulled the trigger on a 27-foot three-pointer that hit nothing but net. Curry was in the midst of a patented flurry of scoring.
Curry, who finished Monday night’s game with a total of 36 points, led Golden State past Minnesota in blowout fashion. His late-game heroics, that included 15 points of scoring in three minutes, capped off a 130-108 win over the T-Wolves at Chase Center.
“You enjoy the show because what he does is so brilliant and so rare,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “And what a gift. A gift for me and our coaching staff, his teammates. We talk all the time about how lucky we are to be doing this. I think we’re especially lucky to be doing this with Steph.”
Coming into Monday night, the Warriors had their eyes set on recovering from a different blowout just two nights prior. A 127-108 loss to the Utah Jazz was exclaimed by head coach Steve Kerr who cryptically stated, “everything is up for adjustment.”
Kerr stuck to his work, beginning with the starting lineup. The decision was made pregame to take rookie center James Wiseman out of the starting lineup and run with veteran big-man Kevon Looney.
The hope was that Golden State would gain a defensive advantage with Looney on floor over the young and inexperienced Wiseman. That bet paid off for Kerr and the Warriors as Minnesota was held to just 23 points in the first period.
The Timberwolves also shot just 37.5 percent from the floor, including 16.7 percent from three-point range. On the offensive side of the ball, Golden State’s 60-percent shooting percentage helped it build an 11-point advantage after the first.
“It was just one game so let’s not go too crazy,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said, attempting to downplay the new starting lineup’s success. “We built a lead to start the game. That was good.”
Kerr, on the other hand, was very pleased with his decision early on.
“We got off to a really good start, which is what I was hoping for,” Kerr said. “The defense was really good. In the first six minutes, I think we got out to a 16 or 17-point lead. It’s just much easier to play from ahead.”
By halftime, the Warriors had built their lead to 14 but coming out of the break, however, Golden State’s focus level and execution began to slip, allowing the Timberwolves to claw their way back into contention.
With the help of four turnovers and 20 missed shots, the Warriors watched their lead, which at one point had ballooned to 18, fall to just 10. To open the fourth quarter, things slipped even further.
30 seconds into the final frame, Golden State led by just eight points following a putback dunk from Minnesota forward Ed Davis.
“I didn’t feel like we played a great game and I didn’t feel like we moved the ball very well,” Kerr said. “We got very careless. I thought Steph got careless in the third quarter… Steph is such a unique player. He had 36 points and took over the game yet the way the game started, he looked out of it. He wasn’t focused.”
Kerr’s assessment came from the fact that Curry, who finished the game with three turnovers, committed two in the third alone. This included an errant half-court pass.
But in a way that Kerr said he’s never seen before — despite playing with some of the game’s greats in Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen and Tim Duncan — Curry was able to make up for his miscues in spectacular fashion.
As Minnesota closed the gap to eight points with just over seven minutes to play, an offensive onslaught by Curry was primed to fire. It began with a 29-foot bomb from three-point range, which set off a cascade of 15 points in just over three minutes.
Knocking down all four shots he attempted from the field — including all three triples he attempted — Curry nearly doubled his scoring output for the game. And by doing so, he helped the Warriors build their lead back to 18 points with 3:27 left to play.
“I’m not sure as a basketball fan that would ever get old to anybody,” Green said. “Unless you’re not a fan of the Warriors or of Steph — which there are plenty of those out there… It was amazing.”
Shortly thereafter, Kerr pulled the Warriors starters from the game with roughly three minutes remaining as Golden State coasted to a blowout win thanks to Curry’s trademark showing of offensive talent.
In addition to Curry, the Warriors also saw large contributions from starting forward Andrew Wiggins, who finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds (all offensive), three steals and three blocks, moving him to sixth in the NBA in blocked shots this season.
Next on the slate for Golden State will be Minnesota once again and while the win will always look nice to the Warriors, the hope is that it won’t take individual efforts like that — particularly that from Curry — to achieve victories moving forward.
“I thought we won on talent, you know Andrew and Steph,” Kerr said. “We had some good individual outings but I didn’t feel like we played a great game and I didn’t feel like we moved the ball very well. We take the win and come back tomorrow and try to get better.