MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Looking at the schedule gave the Minnesota Timberwolves reason to be optimistic about making a run for the Western Conference playoffs.
But after a crushing loss to lowly Golden State on Wednesday night, last year’s Western Conference finalists appear to be running for the lottery.
Derek Fisher had 23 points and nine assists to lead the Warriors to just their sixth road victory of the season, a 99-93 win over the Timberwolves.
“It’s such a bad loss for us,” Wolves guard Fred Hoiberg said.
The Warriors trailed by as many 11 points in the third quarter, but opened the fourth with a 16-2 run to snap a three-game losing streak.
Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who remain one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West after advancing to the Western Conference finals a year ago.
With home games against the Warriors and Milwaukee and a game at Boston this week, the Timberwolves were hoping to “make some hay” as new coach Kevin McHale put it and gain some ground on the Lakers, who lost to Boston on Wednesday night.
But the Warriors had other ideas.
After scoring just 13 points in the fourth quarter of a loss to Memphis on Tuesday night, Golden State ripped off 31 against Minnesota, coming up with every big shot down the stretch to stave off the desperate Timberwolves.
“What happened to them is what’s been happening to us just in terms of the other team shooting the ball well,” Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. “Tonight we shot the ball well and they couldn’t make a basket.”
Mike Dunleavy’s 3-pointer gave Golden State a 90-79 lead with 3:15 to go, but the Timberwolves responded with a 7-0 run to pull to 90-86 just over 2 minutes later.
Hoiberg capped the run with a 3-pointer that got the crowd going, but the Wolves fell asleep on Golden State’s ensuing possession.
As Baron Davis brought the ball up court, several Timberwolves relaxed, anticipating a timeout from Golden State. But Davis drove to the basket and kicked out to a wide-open Jason Richardson for a 3-pointer and a 93-86 lead.
“That was the back-breaker,” Hoiberg said.
Richardson hit one more 3-pointer 30 seconds later to seal the win.
Dunleavy added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and Davis had six points and 10 assists for the Warriors, who are 4-33 when trailing after three quarters.
“Tonight we showed a lot of character when we were down 11 and kept on fighting,” said Richardson, who scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors were 11-of-19 from the field in the fourth, while the Timberwolves were just 8-for-22 after shooting 62 percent in the first half.
“We got stuck on 75 forever,” McHale said. “We had a pretty good handle on the game for most of the night, but we just couldn’t muster any offense in the fourth.”
The Timberwolves started the final period 2-for-15 to let their lead slip away.
Adonal Foyle started with a layup and a jumper and the Warriors made 6-of-10 3-pointers in the fourth to rally.
“It was like there was a lid on the basket or something,” Hoiberg said.
Troy Hudson had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Latrell Sprewell added 15 points and six rebounds, but Wally Szczerbiak was just 4-for-16 from the floor for 14 points and missed several open shots in the fourth.
“We’re going to be replaying those in our heads for awhile,” Szczerbiak said.
McHale was noncommittal about the team’s interest in recently released point guard Gary Payton. “A lot of teams would be interested in Gary Payton,” he said. … Golden State has six games left on an eight-game trip. … The crowd of 15,047 was the smallest at the Target Center this season. The previous low was 15,103 against Portland on Dec. 14.