Warriors pick up pace to blow past Timberwolves

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was during a second-quarter timeout, in the Golden State Warriors huddle, when coach Mark Jackson informed his guys that something needed to change. The Warriors were a step slow at both ends, not nearly aggressive enough and trailing the injury-plagued Timberwolves by 12 points.
This was not the way to start a three-game road trip.
Boy, did things change. The Warriors (5-4) made all the right moves -- hitting the boards, hitting their shots, hitting the accelerator -- en route to a 106-98 victory at Target Center.
"We made the adjustments," said Jackson, in an understatement, after his team won its second straight game. "We started executing on offense, we defended, we rebounded. I think our guys did a very good job of understanding why we were in the hole we were in, and then doing something about it."
Six players scored in double figures for the Warriors, including 18 points each from rookie Harrison Barnes and David Lee, who added 13 rebounds. Stephen Curry had 17 and Carl Landry had 15.
Down by 12 with 6:52 left in the first half, the Warriors outscored the Wolves (5-4) 50-25 from then until the end of the third quarter.
Down by 14 with 7:58 left in the game, the Wolves rallied to within three on Dante Cunningham's two free throws with 2:49 left after Curry fouled out. But Lee scored on a bank shot, then Charles Jenkins -- Curry's replacement -- went to the hole on a pick and roll to put the Warriors in control for good.
"This team just kept playing hard," said Barnes, who came one rebound away from consecutive double-doubles. "We got down early and made some adjustments."
The Wolves were playing without six of their top players; the team announced the signing of veteran free agent Josh Howard Friday morning. Still, coach Rick Adelman wasn't about to give his team a pass after a second straight loss.
The Wolves got 23 points from Derrick Williams, 22 from Alexey Shved off the bench and 18 from Andrei Kirilenko. But the Wolves were a passive, jump-shooting team all night.
"We just didn't do enough," Adelman said. "They hurt us on dribble penetration. They hurt us on the boards. They just attacked us around the basket."
He's right. Pick a stat, any stat: The Warriors shot 50.6 percent, using dribble penetration to break the Wolves down all night. Golden State had a 50-34 edge on rebounds, a whopping 58-22 edge on points in the paint and a 21-15 edge in second-chance points. The Warriors have outscored opponents 104-42 in the paint while winning two straight.
And it all started when Golden State clamped down on defense and revved up the offense midway through the second quarter. Lee's eight points and six rebounds in the quarter set the tone for Golden State, which turned a 12-point deficit into a three-point halftime lead.
"It wasn't there on the defensive end in the first quarter," Lee said. "They shot a good percentage. They had a lot of midrange jumpers all night, but I think points in the paint were greatly in our favor and that's the way we have to play."
And that's the way the Warriors kept playing. In a 29-19 third quarter, Golden State got six or more points from three players, with Curry producing nine, to seemingly take control of the game for good.
Well, almost.
Down by 14 with 7:58 left, the Wolves went on a 13-2 run over the next four minutes -- with Cunningham scoring six points -- to pull within 92-89 on Shved's driving layup. Curry scored at the other end but fouled out moments later, and Cunningham hit two more free throws with 2:49 left.
But Jackson called Lee's number and he responded with an 8-foot turnaround off the glass. Landry blocked a Cunningham shot, then Jenkins scored on the pick and roll for a seven-point lead with two minutes left.
"A guy like Charles Jenkins, who has not played as much as he wants to play, and he makes arguably the biggest play of the game," Jackson said.
Now the Warriors head to Oklahoma City and the Wolves have four days off in which to get healthier.
"We have four days between games now and everybody is waiting for this," Kirilenko said. "Especially with all the injuries we have. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make excuses. I think it's a good team right now (but) it's a good time for us to get our legs back."
NOTES: Josh Howard, signed Friday morning, scored six points in 14:07 of playing time ... The Wolves were again without center Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and guards Brandon Roy (right knee) and J.J. Barea (mid-foot sprain). All three are expected to be ready to play when the Wolves play again Wednesday ... Warriors guard Klay Thompson played despite being ill and scored 12 points ... Lee had his fourth double-double of the season.

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