Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors: Postgame Grades and Analysis
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves came into the game in need of a winning record, and they got it by beating the Golden State Warriors at their own game.

It was a high-scoring affair, with Minnesota winning 121-120. Golden State shot a sizzling 55.1 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from long range, but 14 offensive rebounds by the Timberwolves gave them the extra opportunities to win.

Stephen Curry and David Lee had spectacular games, but the combined efforts of Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin were too much. Especially the latter, as his late jumper capped a comeback effort by Minnesota. 

Key Player Grades:

Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love, Power Forward

Ben Margot/Associated Press

After being named as an All-Star starter for the first time, Kevin Love had a so-so performance by his standards.

He still piled onto his league-leading double-double total with 26 points and 14 rebounds but shot just 7-of-18. Golden State's interior defense hampered Love's shooting, despite going for 15 points and six boards in the first half.

He didn't play especially effective defense on David Lee, but he was still a valuable contributor nonetheless. Love twisted his ankle early, landing on Andrew Bogut's foot after a rebound. He later suffered an apparent knee sprain late in the third quarter, after coming down awkwardly on a fading post shot, but he returned in the fourth quarter.

Love also chipped in eight assists, as well as a stellar 11-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line. His offense was a huge factor in the Timberwolves coming away with the win, but his limited defense on Lee limits his overall grade for the game.

Grade: A-

 

Nikola Pekovic, Center

The Timberwolves had a tough matchup with Bogut and Lee in the paint, but Nikola Pekovic provided a strong response.

He had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota, providing a balanced attack with Love in the frontcourt. Pekovic's physicality and timing on the offensive glass were key, as Bogut and Lee continually double-teamed Love in the post.

Pekovic did everything he was expected to, shooting 11-of-18 with a plus/minus rating of plus-14—the highest for a Timberwolves player.

He didn't have to do too much defensively on Bogut, but still he kept him to just five field-goal attempts. Pekovic's balanced offensive and defensive efforts award him a high grade for this one.

Grade: A+

 

Kevin Martin, Shooting Guard

With Love and Pekovic providing the interior scoring, Kevin Martin took care of the outside shooting.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

He shot for 10-of-17 with four rebounds and two assists. Martin did most of his damage early with 20 points by the end of the third quarter. He played steady defense as well, limiting Thompson's ability to come off of screens and shoot.

Martin also had a huge jumper with 8.4 seconds left to give Minnesota a one-point lead and the game-winning basket. He was fitting fading jumpers all night, but this last one sealed the deal for the Timberwolves.

Any clutch play gets a higher grade, but it's Martin's complete performance that nets him this one.

Grade: A

 

Ricky Rubio, Point Guard

He kept Curry scoreless in the second quarter, but that's all Ricky Rubio managed to do defensively on the Warriors' best player.

Rubio did have nine points, 12 assists and four steals for the game, but he left the game late with an apparent ankle sprain. He coordinated the offense well and was aggressive driving the lane, getting shooters open.

Grade: B

 

The Timberwolves Bench

The reserves chipped in 23 points, with seven coming from Alexey Shved and five apiece from Chase Budinger and J.J. Barea.

The Minnesota bench combined to shoot just 9-of-23, but thankfully, the starting lineup played a strong enough game that it didn't matter.

Grade: C+

 

Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry, Point Guard

He had 15 points in the first quarter, disappeared for the second period but closed the game with a strong performance.

Curry finished with a double-double of 33 points and 15 assists, shooting 12-of-21 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range, with timely baskets to keep the Warriors in the game.

He had just five turnovers, but it wasn't enough for Golden State to come away with the win.

It was no fault of Curry's though, as he showcased just how much he deserves his first All-Star nod.

A victory is a team effort, and despite the Warriors not getting one tonight, Curry receives high praise for his individual effort chasing it.

Grade: A+

 

David Lee, Power Forward

It was uncertain whether David Lee was going to play in this one, but he had a terrific night nonetheless.

He chipped in 23 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, converting 10-of-15 from the field. He stifled Love's attempts in the post all night, but he did more damage offensively.

Curry and Lee worked the pick-and-roll to perfection, with 13 of Lee's 23 points coming in the third quarter. The duo are perhaps the best in the business at working off of each other.

Much like Curry, Lee did all he could to ensure Golden State took a win at home. It just didn't work out.

Grade: A

 

Andrew Bogut, Center

Andrew Bogut's big contract in the offseason raised some eyebrows, but he's proven just how important he is. Especially after tonight's game.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Despite getting into some foul trouble, Bogut had eight points, 11 rebounds and a dominant seven blocked shots. He was a true enforcer in the paint for the Warriors, but he couldn't contain Pekovic.

Bogut did most of his damage defensively as a help defender, which often led to easy shots or putbacks from Pekovic.

He converted 4-of-5 shots though, providing a decent scoring output playing off of the ball. It wasn't a deciding factor in the game, but Bogut could have contained Pekovic to ensure that the game wasn't as close.

Grade: B

 

Andre Iguodala, Small Forward

He did most of his damage late and kept Golden State breathing in the fourth quarter.

Andre Iguodala scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including a three-pointer while being fouled. He didn't convert the ensuing free-throw attempt, but he still made a pair with 27 seconds remaining.

Iguodala committed an offensive foul late, charging out of control into Rubio. It was a questionable call, as Rubio was still moving into the way.

The combination of both affects his grade, as either situation could have swung the momentum had Iguodala done his part.

Grade: B-

 

Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard

Martin outplayed Klay Thompson in this one, from start to finish.

While Thompson had a strong first half with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, he finished the game with 18 points total. He didn't provide the necessary scoring needed down the stretch, and he allowed Martin to score with ease. 

Thompson needs to do more on both sides of the ball in order for Golden State to be successful, no matter how well his teammates play.

His limited contributions on both sides of the ball hamper his grade in this one.

Grade: C+

 

The Warriors Bench

The reserves for Golden State played a key part in this game, and it wasn't all positive. Marreese Speights chipped in 10 points with Lee and Bogut limited with foul trouble, including two big dunks.

Draymond Green had an all-around effort of four points, five rebounds and five assists, but he shot just 1-of-4. Jordan Crawford had six points and two assists, shooting 2-of-6.

Harrison Barnes played 23 minutes as a reserve, but he converted just one attempt in seven tries for the Warriors. Golden State was plus-13 with him on the court, but he missed a wide-open attempt to win the game.

While Curry was double-teamed, Barnes was open for an easy jumper, but he couldn't convert. The lack of help from the reserves has long been the Achilles heel of this Warriors squad, and it must change going forward into the postseason.

This game was just one in a long season, but the lack of help was evident.

Grade: C-

 

What's next for the Timberwolves?

Minnesota has made it three straight wins with this victory over the Warriors, pushing the team record to 21-21. The Timberwolves close out their road trip with visits to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Chicago Bulls.

Love will ultimately need to have his ankle and knee evaluated, so too will Rubio need an assessment of his ankle. The last thing this team needs is for either to go down with an injury, as it is what has hampered Minnesota's playoff hopes the past few seasons.

 

What's next for the Warriors?

Golden State plays another three games at home, hosting Portland, the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers.

All three are intriguing matchups, but the Warriors desperately need a win at home. The last win for the team at Oracle Arena was on Jan. 10 against the Boston Celtics, courtesy of a late jumper by Curry.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Warriors will be a dangerous team in the postseason, but some midseason troubles are proving difficult to solve.

Golden State is just 5-5 in the last 10 games, but the team does have a relatively easy schedule coming up. Let's hope the Warriors can take advantage. 

 

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