Road wins have been hard to come by for the Golden State Warriors. Facing the only team below them in the Western Conference standings could help the Warriors improve their away record.
Golden State looks to avoid its longest road losing streak in five seasons Wednesday night when it takes on the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Warriors (9-24) dropped their eighth straight away game and increased their league-high road loss total to 17 with Tuesday’s 123-122 loss to Denver. Monta Ellis’(notes) jumper with 15.2 seconds gave Golden State a one-point lead, but the Warriors’ star point guard committed a foul on a 40-foot 3-point attempt by J.R. Smith(notes), who hit two of three free throws with 0.4 seconds left.
“You lose at the buzzer, it’s tough,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “Bad teams just don’t get breaks. Let’s face it, you just don’t get breaks. That was our game. We played our hearts out, and I can’t ask any more than what my team gave me.”
Golden State, which hasn’t lost nine straight away games since a 10-game slide Jan. 1-Feb. 7, 2005, last won on the road Dec. 9 against NBA-worst New Jersey. The Warriors, though, can take some solace knowing they’re going to match up against a Minnesota team they routed 146-105 at Oracle Arena on Nov. 9.
“This is what we’re capable of doing,” Ellis said after scoring 18 points with a season-high 10 rebounds in that victory. “We got a lot of deflections (22 steals), got the fast break going. We did a lot of help defense, rebounded the ball and got out and ran.”
It was the most points by Golden State and most allowed by the Timberwolves since a 146-109 Warriors victory on April 1, 1994.
While Golden State is trying to salvage one victory on a four-game trip that ends Wednesday, Minnesota (7-28) is hoping an improved defensive effort will help it snap a four-game slide. The Timberwolves, who have allowed 113.0 points per game during their losing streak, gave up 73 first-half points in Saturday’s 122-111 loss at Indiana.
“Coach (Kurt Rambis) came in here and reamed us, but he shouldn’t have to do that for us to want to play,” said Kevin Love(notes), who missed the Nov. 9 loss in Oakland due to injury. “For a lot of us, including myself, we were just dragging. We didn’t come out and play hard, and there’s no excuse for that.”
Rambis has focused on improving that porous defense in practice this week, but it might not matter against a Warriors team averaging 107.3 points.
“They’re such a unique team. They cause us all kind of matchup problems,” Rambis said of Golden State. “We’re much better now than we were (in the first matchup), but they’re playing some pretty good ball. They cause some teams a lot of problems with the way they play and the type of scorers they have.”
Ellis is averaging 30.8 points on 51.6 percent shooting in his last nine games, while Warriors forward Corey Maggette(notes) has 20 or more points in 10 of his last 11. He scored a season-high 35 on Tuesday.
Golden State has won three of four in Minnesota, including a 118-94 victory March 3 in the teams’ last matchup at Target Center.