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Warriors 96, Timberwolves 85

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors harassed Kevin Love into his worst game of the season and used a suffocating defense as the foundation for a 22-6 finish that produced a 96-85 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Oracle Arena on Saturday night.

The visiting Timberwolves led by as many as eight in the third quarter and retained a 79-74 advantage in the third minute of the final period before going ice cold, managing just two field goals the rest of the way en route to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Warriors rookie Draymond Green played a leading role in the fourth-quarter comeback, stalling Love on one end while also finding time for two key follow shots at the other that got Golden State rolling toward its third consecutive home victory and fifth victory in its last seven games overall.

After Green had followed in Warriors misses on consecutive possessions to get his team within 79-78, Golden State took the lead for good on a three-point play that also featured an offensive rebound.

This time, after Harrison Barnes had tied the game by making the first of two free throws, Carl Landry snatched a Barnes miss and converted a follow shot for 81-79 with 8:25 to play.

Barnes slammed through a dunk on a fast break and Stephen Curry buried a 3-pointer, capping a 12-point Warriors run that put them in good position to coast home with a win.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves went eight consecutive possessions without a score, three times failing when the smaller Green forced Love into misses. Minnesota also had three turnovers in the game-swinging stretch.

Love scored inside to end the drought with 5:28 to go, but the Timberwolves got only one more basket -- a jumper by Nikola Pekovic -- the rest of the way as Golden State extended to a 12-point lead and didn't need to sweat out a tight finish.

The Warriors outscored the Timberwolves 26-11 in the final quarter.

Love, coming off games in which he had 34 and 24 points on the heels of returning from a broken hand, shot just 6-for-20 and finished with 15 points. Pekovic led Minnesota with 17.

Klay Thompson had 24, Curry 20, Landry 18 and David Lee 17 in a balanced Golden State attack.

A slow start transformed into a frantic finish in a first half that ended with the Timberwolves on top 51-47. The four-point difference exactly equaled an improbable Minnesota lead through 14 minutes after it had missed 21 of its first 29 shots, including all eight of its 3-pointers, and yet was able to build a 20-16 advantage.

But a game that resembled what you might expect from two teams playing on the second night of back-to-backs on a holiday weekend quickly became a crowd-pleaser, even if it was spearheaded by Jose Barea and the visitors' mostly-reserve unit.

With Minnesota up 23-21 and under 9:00 remaining in a low-scoring half, Barea buried a 3-pointer and assisted hoops by fellow backups Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham in a 12-3 flurry that pushed the Timberwolves' lead into double figures at 35-24.

But just as suddenly the Warriors, who had misfired on 20 of their 29 shots to that point, turned things around. Stephen Curry swished three consecutive 3's and Klay Thompson dropped in three straight shots of his own, including a 3, as Golden State made eight shots in succession to pull even at 47-all in the final minute of the half.

Barea countered from inside the key and Kevin Love, who had a quiet half, found Andrei Kirilenko with a rocket-like, 60-foot outlet pass for a layup that beat the halftime horn, helping Minnesota re-establish its advantage, 51-47, before the intermission.

The high-scoring Love had only three hoops in the half, including one for which he got credit when Warriors Draymond Green and Andris Biedrins accidentally tipped the ball into the Minnesota basket while battling for a rebound.

Golden State's Klay Thompson led all scorers in the half with 16.

NOTES: The Warriors hope to see injured center Andrew Bogut working out on the team's practice court in some capacity Monday, which makes him at least questionable to return to game action on the club's current homestand that runs through Dec. 3 ... Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio missed his 37th consecutive game (including the final 25 last season) as he recovers from surgery on his left knee. He appears relatively close to returning, but the Timberwolves' Rick Adelman cautioned nothing in imminent. "He looks fine," the veteran coach observed. "Once we see him in scrimmages, we'll see where he is." ... The Timberwolves were also without Chase Budinger, who has connected on 40.6 percent of his 3-point shots in nine career games against the Warriors. Lamenting his team's poor outside shooting of late, Adelman assured, "Chase would help." The swingman isn't expected back until at least February ... Despite missing key players for most of the season, the Warriors (7-6) and Timberwolves (5-6) both entered the contest within a half-game of the .500 mark, prompting Adelman to note, "In our league, there are so many teams like (the Warriors and Timberwolves). It seems like everyone is around .500."
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