Wolves Fall Short Against Warriors, 94-91
That pretty much sums up life for the Wolves before the All Star Break.
Minnesota trailed the Golden State Warriors by as many as 14 points, fought its way back with a run, had a legitimate shot to take the lead, then had another chance to tie the game as the buzzer sounded, and didn’t get a shot off.
Klay Thompson tipped an inbound pass intended for Chase Budinger with 1.4 seconds left and the clock expired as the Warriors earned a 94-91 win over the Wolves on Wednesday night at Target Center.
Postgame Interview: Flip Saunders
“We didn’t start the game very well especially against one of the best teams in the league,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to learn from this game that we have to play 48 minutes.”
Rubio finished with a season-high 18 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He could have used one more assist, though, as a pick-and-roll play got Nikola Pekovic open for a layup that would have given the team the lead with less than 10 seconds to play. That attempt from the right block just rimmed out.
“I take that shot 100 times out of 100,” Rubio said. “It was an open look.”
Minnesota had another chance after Pekovic’s missed layup as it deflected an inbound pass that nearly the entire team touched and couldn’t corral. Steph Curry ended up with the ball, got fouled, and knocked to a couple free throws to close out the game food good.
“They’ve been playing well with their guys back from injury,” Curry said before the game. “We’re going to have to play a pretty complete 48 minutes to get a win. We know that. We want to go on into the break on a high note and we have a chance to do that tonight.”
Postgame Interview: Kevin Martin
Though the Warriors didn’t necessarily play a complete 48 minutes they still managed the win as Curry, a leading candidate for the MVP award, finished with 25 points and was instrumental down the stretch. Thompson added 14 points and Andrew Bogut chipped in with 10 points for Golden State.
While coach Flip Saunders seemed pretty was impressed with the way the Wolves defended the Warriors, he was not happy with his group of reserves.
“They won the game for them,” Saunders said, “and our bench didn’t match what they were able to do throughout the game.”
Minnesota got back into the game after Rubio helped spark a late 14-2 run to cut into the Golden State lead. He nailed a straightaway three-pointer to help ignite the run, though the Wolves really started to cook after he deflected a pass, saved the ball behind his back, and hit Thaddeus Young in stride for an easy layup.
That run, however, wasn’t enough to dig the team out of the hole it dug for itself early in the night.
“We had a chance,” Saunders said. “If we come out better from the beginning we might have had a better opportunity.”
Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Gorgui Dieng will head to New York on Thursday.
While the All Star Weekend will give those four players a chance to be surround be greatness for a few days, the All Star Break in and of itself will benefit the Wolves in a myriad of ways. It’ll give the team a chance to rest its collective legs. It’ll give Ricky Rubio a few extra days to recuperate, as he appears to have hit a bit of a wall since returning from his ankle injury. It’ll also give newest Wolves player Adreian Payne a chance to immerse himself in the team’s playbook.
Rubio, still noticeably irked after the loss, was adamant he doesn’t need a break right now
Postgame Interview: Thad Young
“If we played tomorrow,” he said, “I could play.”
Saunders, on the other hand, said he thinks everyone could benefit from a break.
“I’m tired right now and I know if I’m tired the players are tired,” Saunders said. “It’s a good thing for us.”
LEADER OF THE PACK
Ricky Rubio filled up the state sheet with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists to lead the Wolves. Though Kevin Martin had a team-high 21 points, Rubio was the straw that stirred the drink all night. He sparked a late run with a few clutch jumpers and a couple more effort plays that went beyond the stat sheet. Rubio also had 3 steals in the game.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
-- Kevin Martin kept the Wolves in it in the first frame with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He was crafty getting to the baskets and nailed a pair of shots form long range for good measure.
-- Golden State, one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA, struggled by its standards in the first half shooting 4-for-14 from long range. Steph Curry had a tough time as he entered the locker room a mere 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.
-- Minnesota’s bench couldn’t compete with the reserve unit for the Warriors as it was outscored 34-14 throughout the game. Leandro Barbosa the Golden State bench mob with 10 points.
-- Andrew Wiggins finished with 6 points in the game and now 10th all-time on the NBA scoring list for teenagers. He needs just 3 points to pass Clifford Robinson for 9th on the all-time list.
No games for a little more than a week. Minnesota and the rest of the NBA, sans the players that will be in New York for All Star Weekend, will get some rest with the impending All Star Break. It’s much needed for the Wolves and likely most teams throughout the league. Minnesota will pick up play again next Friday against the Phoenix Suns.