After being held to just 14-of-43 from the floor in one of their worst shooting nights of the season on Monday, Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were certain that their performance had nothing to do with the San Antonio Spurs’ defense.
“Absolutely nothing,” Thompson said when asked what San Antonio did to contain Golden State’s back court. “We just missed shots.”
Thompson also vowed that he and Curry would undoubtedly find a way to get their games back on track in the very near future. Less than 24 hours after their 111-105 loss to the Spurs, in the second of a back-to-back for the Warriors, Curry and Thompson combined for 64 points to carry Golden State to a 117-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Obviously it helped to make shots,” Curry said. “Unlike last night. Tonight was a great offensive performance.”
After a three-and-a-half hour plane ride from San Antonio to Minneapolis on Monday night, the Warriors entered Tuesday’s game with one purpose: Control the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
After losing to the Spurs the night before, the second-seeded Denver Nuggets had drawn even with the defending champs with a 47-22 record.
The Warriors had looked flat and tired to finish the game the night before, so starting hot was key if Golden State had a chance to finish a four game road trip with a 3-1 record.
Hitting their first three shots of the game, the Warriors opened a 7-2 lead over the Timberwolves. But while Minnesota has been all but eliminated from playoff contention, the Timberwolves were still able to wake themselves up for a game against the Warriors.
Minnesota ripped off a 20-2 run, beginning to out-muscle, out-hustle and out-shoot Golden State, as the Warriors began to show signs of fatigue early in the first quarter.
Thompson, who had scored five of Golden State’s first seven points, would be the force to end Minnesota’s run. Nailing a 26-foot 3-pointer, Thompson became the catalyst for the Warriors offense scoring 15 first-quarter points as Golden State went on a 21-4 run of its own. The run, capped by a 28-footer by Curry, would give the Warriors the lead.
“I don’t really know what sparked it,” Thompson said. “But I’m glad we did it.”
For much of the first half, Curry — who only hit two shot in the first (both threes) — was focussed on getting his teammates involved as a facilitator. One of the players who was able to answer the bell was Warriors forward Jonas Jerebko, who had played only two-and-a-half minutes over the last three games of the road trip.
For Jerebko, who got bumped from the Warriors rotation with the return of center DeMarcus Cousins from Achilles rehab, Tuesday proved to be great opportunity.
“It helps when you’ve been in that kind of position before,” Jerebko said. “I’m confident in my ability. Just gotta stay ready.”
With Cousins sidelined for the second game in a row with foot soreness, and newly-acquired center Andrew Bogut’s minutes being monitored in his first two games back in the NBA after more than a year away, Jerebko saw his first significant chunk of on-court minutes since January, and he looked ready.
In the second quarter, Jerebko scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. Jerebko finished the game with 18 points in 18 minutes.
‘It was good to see Jonas [Jerebko] out there,” Kerr said. “I haven’t played him much at all and the guys were taking joy from Jonas’ performance. He’s just a pro.”
With Jerebko’s help and timely output, the Warriors built a 12-point lead heading into the locker room. But the Timberwolves would not go away quietly.
Starting the third on a 14-2 run, Minnesota completely erased the Warriors’ double-digit lead, tying the game at 61 with eight minutes to play in the period.
Similar to Thompson in the first quarter, Curry would halt the Timberwolves push with a 25-foot 3-pointer, triggering a patented Curry flurry, which allowed Golden State to regain control of the contest before the game got too far off of the rails.
Hitting four of his eight total 3-pointers in the third, Curry scored 22 points in the period, including the final 14. In doing so, Curry also recorded his 26th quarter with at least 20 points. It’s also his fifth quarter of that kind this season.
“He was struggling or something?” Thompson said. “He was phenomenal. He’s the engine that makes us go.”
With a 16-point lead built heading into the fourth, the Warriors would hold off the Timberwolves, finishing their four-game road trip with a win behind 36 and 28 points from Curry and Thompson, respectively.