Notebook: Warriors 105, Timberwolves 89



Posted Apr 10, 2013 2:34 AM

By Geoff Lepper, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 54 points and the Golden State Warriors clinched just their second playoff berth in 19 seasons with a 105-89 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

Thompson had 25 of his game-high 30 points in the first half and added a career-high five steals for the Warriors (45-33), while Curry took over after intermission with 13 in the third quarter as part of a 24-point, 10-assist performance. Chase Budinger's 17 points led Minnesota (29-48), which has lost six straight matchups against Golden State.

Since 1993-94, when a rookie named Chris Webber led Golden State to 50 victories, the only other Warriors team to qualify for postseason play was the Baron Davis-led "We Believe" squad of 2006-07, which went on to upset top-seeded Dallas in the first round. Golden State remained one game ahead of Houston in the fight for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Warriors.

QUOTABLE: "We understand that this is a small step, but it's a huge accomplishment for a lot of guys in here."

-- Stephen Curry on wrapping up a playoff spot

THE STAT: After gifting the Timberwolves 15 points off nine turnovers in the first half, Golden State finally began taking care of the ball in the third quarter. The Warriors committed only one miscue, and Minnesota could turn that into just one point -- all while being outscored 31-16 in the frame.

TURNING POINT: The battle between Thompson and Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour boiled over midway through the third quarter, with Ridnour drawing a personal and technical foul at the same time for initiating off-the-ball contact. Curry drained the free throw, and on the ensuing possession, Harrison Barnes sprang free for a back-door alley-oop dunk off David Lee's pass. That sequence highlighted a 19-4 run that took the Warriors from a 60-59 deficit to a 78-64 lead.

QUOTABLE II: "We're not satisfied with this at all. We want to make the playoffs, like we did now. We want to go to the next round -- I don't know if it's this year or it's next year. And we're going to win an NBA championship here. I guarantee it."

-- Warriors lead owner Joe Lacob

INSIDE THE ARENA: When the remnants of a 30th consecutive sellout crowd began chanting "Playoffs!" in the final minutes, it was a redemptive moment for Lacob, who was viciously booed little more than a year ago by the Oracle Arena faithful in the surreal end to a ceremony marking the retirement of Chris Mullin's jersey. That was in the wake of the Warriors trading fan favorite Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for then-injured center Andrew Bogut. He's still is not fully recovered from his badly fractured left ankle, but Tuesday the 7-footer grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds -- 13 defensive -- and blocked three shots to anchor Golden State's D. "There's no question in my mind -- to me, it was vindicated from day one," Lacob said. "The trade was a fantastic trade. We had to get bigger. We had to get tougher. We had to get stronger. We had to do all those things. We're a much bigger team. We can play against size. There's still things we need to do, but yeah, we're a better team because of that trade."

HOT: Dealing Ellis was made easier by the emergence of Thompson, who single-handedly kept the Warriors afloat Tuesday in a first half where most everyone else was misfiring at every opportunity. The second-year guard hit his first nine shots, including five from 3-point land, before finally missing an off-balance trey while trying too hard to take advantage of being covered by diminutive J.J. Barea. Thompson missed nine of his last 10 shots, but it hardly mattered; the Warriors are now 10-1 when Thompson cracks the 25-point barrier.

QUOTABLE III: "I told them, 'Don't you dare go to the baggage claim, because this is just a layover. This is not our final destination.'"

-- Warriors coach Mark Jackson

NOT: Ricky Rubio's wretched April continued on its downward spiral. The Minnesota point guard was shut out from the field on 10 attempts. In five games this month, Rubio is shooting 23.2 percent (13-for-56).

ROOKIE WATCH: Barnes racked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in just 26 minutes.

NOTABLE: Jackson came to the podium for his post-game press conference with reddened eyes, and copped to the fact that it was because he'd been crying as part of the team's celebration: "There is no shame in my game. I'm an emotional, sensitive guy. . . . I cried because I know what these guys put into it." Jackson is the first Warriors coach other than Don Nelson to take Golden State into the postseason since George Karl did it in 1986-87. . . . With Thompson now on 203 3-pointers, he and Curry are the second pair of teammates in NBA history to knock down at least 200 treys in the same season. Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker did it for Boston in 2001-02. . . . A statistical oddity: Wolves coach Rick Adelman doled out his playing time so evenly in the first half that 10 players each got at least 10 minutes on the floor. Nobody had more than Rubio's 13:49, or less than Barea's 10:11.

UP NEXT: For the Timberwolves, Wednesday @ Clippers, Friday @ Utah, Saturday vs. Phoenix. For the Warriors, Thursday vs. Oklahoma City, Friday @ Lakers, Monday vs. San Antonio.