Don Nelson’s first attempt at becoming the NBA’s all-time leader for coaching victories came up well short.
Nelson will again try to earn his 1,333rd victory and lead the Warriors to a season sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time in 18 years when they meet Wednesday night at the Target Center.
Golden State (23-54) had won two straight to get Nelson even with Lenny Wilkens atop the coaching wins list, but the team came out flat in Tuesday’s 112-94 loss to Washington. Nelson hasn’t placed much emphasis on defense this season, but the Warriors were completely overmatched, allowing the hapless Wizards to shoot 51.8 percent and finish with their most points since a 118-116 overtime loss to New York on Feb. 26.
Part of Golden State’s problem was a shortage of players. Ronny Turiaf(notes) and Monta Ellis(notes) missed the game with the flu and C.J. Watson(notes) sat out with sore ribs. Stephen Curry(notes) jammed his right shoulder on the first play of the game trying to set a screen, but finished with a team-high 27 points.
“Not a very good effort,” Nelson said, “but when we start running out of bodies … I wish I could’ve rested some guys more, but you’ve got to have five guys on the court at all times. If I could’ve got away with three, I would’ve done it.”
Golden State shot just 39.3 percent to finish with fewer than 100 points for just the second time in 15 games.
The Warriors, who averaged 116.5 points in their previous four games, should have better luck against a Timberwolves team that has lost 24 of 26 and is yielding 107.5 points. Minnesota (15-62) has given up at least 100 points in 16 of 18 games, and is 7-46 when allowing opponents to reach triple digits.
The Warriors have had little trouble getting their offense on track in winning the first two meetings of the season with the Timberwolves, including a 145-105 home victory Nov. 9. Golden State, which has won nine of 12 against Minnesota, hasn’t swept a season series from the Timberwolves since going 4-0 in 1991-92.
Minnesota is coming off another disappointing defensive performance, yielding 43 first-quarter points in Sunday’s 116-108 loss to Oklahoma City. Despite falling behind by as many as 24 in the opening minutes of the second half, the Timberwolves came charging back to pull within six with just over eight minutes remaining, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“The message I gave to them after the game, is that they have to play with that sort of energy, effort and desperation all the time that they showed in the second half,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said.
Flynn, who is averaging 13.5 points, had one of the worst shooting performances of his rookie season in a 107-101 home loss to the Warriors on Jan. 6, missing 10 of 11 shots to finish with six points.