Another Warriors Late-Game Comeback Sinks Wolves 93-88

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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It was almost like watching a replay of a game played earlier this month. Same teams, same venue, same result, different night.

For the second time in April, the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a disappointing home game against the Golden State Warriors thanks to a late-game collapse. The Wolves fell 93-88 on Sunday night at Target Center in the team’s second to last game of the season.

It was eerily similar to their 97-94 loss on April 4. On that night, the Warriors battled back from down 20 points and picked up the win thanks to a 38-point third quarter and a significant uptick in offensive and defensive energy in the second half.

This time around, the Wolves watched a 21-point lead evaporate before their eyes. Minnesota scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and were outscored 54-33 in the final 24 minutes.

“Just like the last time we played this team,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We talked about it. I think the team thinks because you get a lead, you think everything is going to be fine. You have to keep working at it. We didn’t do it.”

On a night where the Wolves announced they planned to shut forward Kevin Love down for the remainder of the season as a precaution linked to his concussion suffered April 11, Minnesota (26-39) wilted down the stretch on both ends of the floor. Offensively the Wolves shot 10-for-40 after halftime, including 2-for-15 from 3-point range, and on the defensive end the Warriors got enough open shots to begin and complete their comeback.

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Golden State, on the other hand, looked nothing like a team playing in its third game in as many nights—going 0-2 in the previous two days. The Warriors (23-41) got stronger as the night went on. After shooting 28 percent in the first quarter, Golden State caught fire in the second half and hit 56 percent of their shots in the final 24 minutes.

Three-point shooting and free throws were a non-factor for Golden State—The Warriors made 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and hit only 2-of-6 free throws in the second half. The Warriors simply were aggressive, found open looks and knocked them down.

“It’s embarrassing,” forward Michael Beasley said. “We had a lead, got comfortable and they got it going and we didn’t have any answers for them.”

In particular, the Wolves had no answer for guard Charles Jenkins.

The rookie point guard finished the night with 24 points and nine assists. He played all 48 minutes in the game, controlled the tempo and helped Golden State play a fairly clean game. The Warriors had just nine turnovers, and Minnesota only scored six points off those miscues.

Meanwhile, Wolves guard JJ Barea matched Jenkins minute for minute. He played all 48 in the game and finished with 14 points and 12 assists.

But Minnesota as a whole couldn’t stop the Warriors with the game on the line.

The Wolves led all game until Brandon Rush knocked down a turnaround jumper with 8:05 to play in the fourth, knotting the score at 81-81. The teams found themselves tied three more times, the last at 87-87 with 1:28 to play. Center Nikola Pekovic scored and drew a foul, and his free throw gave Minnesota it’s last lead of the night at 88-87.

But Rush sank a 3-pointer on Golden State’s next possession, and a steal by Mikki Moore led to a basket and foul by Dominic McGuire that sealed the victory.

Rush scored 19 points off the bench, while guard Klay Thompson finished with 17 pioints and four rebounds. McGuire had 12 points and Richard Jefferson finished with 10.

“They got hot,” Barea said. “Jenkins did a great job, Thompson, Rush—the shooters—they got hot and started making shots.”

Pekovic led the Wolves with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds on the night. Guard Martell Webster finished with 18 points and had four 3-pointers, and forward Anthony Randolph had 14 points. Beasley finished with eight points.

The Wolves have three days off before their season-finale at home against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. Minnesota is celebrating Fan Appreciation Night that evening, and with the Nuggets currently sitting sixth in the Western Conference by a half game the Wolves have a shot to change up the seeding on the final day of the regular season.

But if Minnesota hopes to finish the season with a victory, it will need to play a full 48 minutes against a difficult divisional foe.

“It’s the attitude,” Adelman said. “Like I said, the game was easy in the first half. We were scoring, things were going good. Then in the second half we acted like it was going to be that way the whole game without working at it, and that’s what’s frustrating.”

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