OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 on Tuesday night, using a 19-4 third-quarter flurry and 30 points from Klay Thompson as the foundations of a 105-89 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Warriors' 45th win, coupled with Utah's 38th loss earlier in the night, assured Golden State will finish among the top eight teams in the Western Conference standings when the NBA's regular season ends next week.
The Warriors (45-33) hold a one-game advantage over the Houston Rockets (44-34) for the sixth spot on the Western playoff ladder. Golden State's first-round playoff opponent, if the postseason began today, would be Denver (53-24).
The postseason experience will be the first for seven of the 13 Warriors in uniform Tuesday, including David Lee, an eight-year veteran, and Stephen Curry, who has spent all four of his NBA seasons with Golden State.
The Warriors' last trip to the playoffs came at the end of the 2006-07 season, when they snuck in with a 42-40 record and then stunned the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks before falling to the Utah Jazz in the conference semifinals.
After failing to clinch their spot Sunday in a home loss to Utah, the Warriors made the most of their second opportunity despite trailing most of the first half against the Timberwolves.
The turnaround en route to Golden State's sixth consecutive win over Minnesota was a technical foul on Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour for scuffling with the Thompson, whose 25-point first half almost singlehandedly kept Golden State in the game.
After Thompson's sixth 3-pointer of the night gave the Warriors a 63-60 lead with 7:26 left in the third quarter, the rivals bumped a couple of times on the Timberwolves' next possession. Ridnour took the contact a step further on the transition back to the Golden State hoop, first fouling Thompson away from the ball and then shoving him to draw the technical.
Curry converted the "T" into a free throw and a four-point lead, and Harrison Barnes brought down the house with a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Lee on the subsequent possession.
Curry and Barnes added 3s of their own shortly thereafter. When Curry hit a 10-foot floater in the lane with 3:40 left in the quarter, the Warriors had a 19-4 run and a 78-64 cushion that was not seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Thompson's 30 points came on 10-for-19 shooting 6-for-10 from 3-point range. Curry (24 points, 10 assists), Lee (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Barnes (15 points, 10 rebounds) all complemented Thompson with double-doubles. Even Andrew Bogut had a role in the win, outplaying reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Nikola Pekovic, outrebounding him 10-7 and harassing him into 2-for-8 shooting.
Reserve forward Chase Budinger led the Timberwolves (29-48) with 17 points. Fellow backups J.J. Barea (13) and Dante Cunningham (11) also scored in double figures for Minnesota, as did starting forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had 15.
The best thing that happened for the Warriors in the first half actually occurred about 750 miles to the east in Salt Lake City, where the Jazz lost 90-80 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Back at Oracle Arena, Golden State had to score the final five points of the half just to lead 55-54.
Thompson had 25 of the Warriors' 55 first-half points, hitting his first nine shots, including five 3-pointers.
NOTES: There's been more to celebrate in an around the Warriors recently than merely their run to the playoffs. Coach Mark Jackson's former coach, Rick Pitino, won the NCAA championship; Bernard King, a two-year Warrior, was named to the 2013 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame; and Rick Adelman, who coached the Warriors for two seasons, earned his 1,000 NBA coaching win for the Timberwolves. ... Jackson sent Pitino a congratulatory text following Louisville's title-game triumph over Michigan. "I'm happy and proud to be a former player of his," the ex-New York Knicks guard said of the former Knicks coach. ... King played the 1980-81 and '81-82 seasons for the Warriors, averaging 22.5 points in 160 games. He earned NBA Comeback Player of the Year honors in his first season as a Warrior. ... Adelman recorded 66 of his victories as the Warriors' head coach in 1995-96 and '96-97. He holds the distinction of having recorded more wins in San Jose (30) than any Warriors coach, with the team moving their home games there in 1996-97 while Oracle Arena was being refurbished. "That was quite an era there," Adelman joked before Tuesday's game. ... Jackson said of Adelman: "When you talk about guys during my career, and to date, he's in the discussion with the best." ... Pekovic earned NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors for last week after averaging 25.0 points and 8.5 rebounds as Minnesota won three of four.