Wolves Fastbreak: Minnesota's bench leads Wolves over Warriors
MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 119-99 victory over the worn-out Golden State Warriors, who played without Steph Curry and Draymond Green on Sunday night.
Jaylen Nowell scored 17 points and Malik Beasley added in 16 with five second-half 3-pointers on an especially productive night for the reserves for the Timberwolves, who outscored a Warriors team wrapping up a four-game trip by a whopping 40-19 over the last 16 minutes.
“We’re really close. We like to see each other succeed. That right there is one of the hardest things to find in teams, I feel like," Nowell said. “None of us on the team are selfish.”
Jordan Poole scored 20 points and Jonathan Kuminga had 19 points for the Warriors, who lost for the fifth time in seven games. They missed 16 straight shots over one stretch in the second half.
“We’re in a tough spot, just like every team faces every year, and this is our time right now with some of the injuries,” coach Steve Kerr said. “So it’s OK. We’ll bounce back.”
Even without having to guard Curry, who hurt his right hand Friday, this was a measuring-stick game for a Timberwolves team that has made noticeable progress but still has plenty of room to mature into a consistent winner. They're now tied for seventh place in the Western Conference.
“We don’t just want be in the play-in game. We want to be set in the playoffs. We’re trying to figure out how to get a nice little win streak to get us above the hump,” Beasley said.
After missing the playoffs the last two seasons on the heels of five straight appearances in the NBA Finals, the Warriors have the second-best record in the league — 2 1/2 games behind Pacific Division rival Phoenix. They're in a bit of a rut without Green and with Klay Thompson working back into rhythm after 2 1/2 years away.
With the rookie Kuminga and veteran Otto Porter Jr. have taken on larger roles in the frontcourt alongside Kevon Looney, the Warriors made Towns earn it early. He finished 8 for 10 from the floor as the ball began to move more, after he started 3 for 10.
“Got some and-ones, got some layups, utilized my finishing ability. For this team to grow, I have to grow as well,” Towns said.
WORKING HIS WAY BACK
The return of Thompson last week from his latest injury, a torn Achilles tendon, gave the Warriors a midseason energy boost that's being doled out in moderation. Thompson, who rested on Friday after playing 20 minutes the night before, had 13 points in 23 minutes on 5-for-14 shooting.
“You can't trust what I say, because I say I can play 40 minutes, but I'm not a sports scientist,” Thompson said. “That's what our training staff is for. I trust them, and I don't want to get overeager in just my fourth game in. I want to peak come playoff time.”
Green missed his fourth straight game with tightness in his left calf, and the Warriors announced he'll be sidelined for at least two more weeks before another evaluation. His injury has been determined to be tied to a disc issue in his lower back, and Kerr said he believes a cautious approach will suit the 10th-year veteran best.
On the brighter side, Curry avoided a serious injury, experiencing only soreness after falling hard on his right hand on Friday. He headed home early for treatment and has a chance to play on Tuesday.
Warriors: Backup point guard Gary Payton II sat out with lower back spasms, his second straight absence. ... Looney had 12 rebounds for the second consecutive game.
Timberwolves: Towns had his 11th game this season of 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds. ... Minnesota stretched the NBA's longest active streak to 39 straight games with 10-plus forced turnovers.
Warriors: Host Detroit on Tuesday night to start a seven-game homestand. They're 18-3 at Chase Arena this season.
Timberwolves: At New York on Tuesday night. They're in a four-week stretch from Dec. 31-Jan. 28 with 12 of their 15 games on the road.