Warriors 129, Timberwolves 116: The Wicks Have Met

Steph on Fire

The thing about it as that you commit so much effort to trying to slow Steph Curry down – he still gets 45 points. So then you sit there and you wonder, okay, if you don’t do those things and just try to play conventionally, he might get 60. All you can try to do is take the ball out of his hands as much as possible, put pressure on him and test his shots. I thought our guys were there, he just makes those shots. He makes some tough shots.”

— Sam Mitchell, postgame

First of all, it was actually 46 points.

8-of-13 from downtown, 15-of-25 total from the field, and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. 46 points, as effortless and beautiful as they could be scored, all while providing exquisite point guard play (he had just 4 assists, but must’ve had several “hockey assists” via Draymond Green). Wardell Stephen Curry is somehow, inconceivably, better than he was during his 2014-15 MVP campaign and title run. If he keeps knocking down threes at his current rate, he’ll sink 426 of them this season, shattering the record of 286 which was set by… Curry, in 2014-15.

“The thing I’m proud of,” said Mitchell at the podium afterward, “is that it took (Golden State’s) best game. It took Steph, it took Draymond, it took Klay, it took all of them to have their best game to beat us… for us to hang in there, to be there at the end, it took their best to beat us, and (the Warriors are) really good.”

As soon as the news broke pregame that Ricky Rubio would miss his second consecutive contest, a losing result for Minnesota seemed like a foregone conclusion. Curry, the human blowtorch, would have to be checked by some combination of Zach LaVine, Andre Miller and Tyus Jones. The most any sane person could’ve expected or hoped from a Ricky-less Wolves squad was a fun, semi-competitive game, and incredibly, despite the fact that Curry ate everyone who tried to guard him alive (except for Karl-Anthony Towns, but more on that later), a fun, competitive game was exactly what we got.

Golden State got off to a hot start, led by Curry, who dropped 21 in the opening frame as they built a double digit lead. The second quarter belonged to Wiggins and Muhammad, with Klay Thompson and Ian Clark (wait, who?) splashing home two threes apiece to keep the Warriors out in front at the break, 75-to-63.

Luke Walton only felt comfortably going eight players deep in his rotation: Steph, Klay, Dray, Barnes, Ezeli, Bogut, Iggy, and Livingston. When Curry was on the court, the Warriors were plus-21. Draymond, who flirted with a triple-double (23-8-12), was a game best plus-34. Late in the third period, the Dubs stretched their lead from 15 to 21 in the blink of an eye on a Steph three – Green steal – Steph three sequence, and Minnesota could’ve easily folded. Instead, Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad were hyper-aggressive on the offensive end, Nemanja Bjelica moved the ball and set up his teammates, Gorgui’s jumper was hella wet, and Andre Miller used his big ol’ ass to score a few buckets in the post. Just 4:52 of game time later, the lead was down to 5.

With 6:30 to go, Steph checked back in with the Warriors clinging to a six point lead. He hit a deep three almost immediately, then a perfectly long two after Karl-Anthony Towns switched onto him and managed to stay in front. In fact, KAT wound up isolated on Curry a bunch in the final minutes of the game, and the teenager held his own against the MVP. He was easily the best wing defender the Wolves had during the game, which is a pretty cool skill set for a 7’0 250 lb big man to possess. But ultimately, it wasn’t enough, sort of like we all knew it wouldn’t be, and the Warriors pulled away for the win, sort of like we knew they would.

The veracity of moral victories gets debated a ton, just like the topic of Zach LaVine as a point guard, Minnesota’s lack of three-point shooting (nine total for this game), Rubio’s overall health, the precise mixture of veterans and youngsters should play, and on and on and on. But some nights, I can’t even force myself to care too much about all that. All I really knew after watching a game like this one: the Wolves didn’t quit, even (especially) when the MVP was doing his best to pummel them into submission by knocking down one impossible shot after another, KAT looks great, Wiggins does, too, and the Warriors are a goddamn juggernaut.

Golden State is not a measuring stick for Minnesota; they’re in a different stratosphere. There will be other nights, and other opponents that offer a more accurate glimpse into how close or far the Woves are from being a good team. So instead of fretting about details and failures against the Warriors, why not sit back and take in the spectacle? Because when the defending champs roll into town on a long winning streak, and are playing with a chip on their shoulders, and are even somehow better than they were a season ago, what good does worrying do?


Tough moral victory against the champs tonight. But our baby wolves gotta walk before they can run.

A photo posted by Steve Marsh (@stephenhero) on

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4 Responsesso far.

  1. seanie blue says:

    Great game. KAT is brilliant, Wiggins is sublime. Too bad we don’t have Draymond Green on this team with those two. What a perfect fit. We would have had two shots to draft Green before the 35th pick of the 2012 draft, except we traded those chances away for Chase Budinger and Marko Jaric, roughly. And I’m beginning to see the sense in some of Sam Mitchell’s psychological work. He’s a good teacher. I still find it amazing that the Wolves don’t have a single photograph of a black person on their front office page on their official website, one of the only NBA teams that does not. Doesn’t Mitchell at the very least merit a mugshot there? Or Newton? Which of course leads to the only news that is real news from yesterday: Taylor will sell 20% of the team for a cool $150 to $175 million, profit profit profit, and will do so to one of the most mysterious people in basketball: Jason Levien, who has been a key part of NBA front offices in Sacramento, Philadelphia and Memphis and has been backstabbed and canned at each place. There is something very fishy about this guy, and not even Sports Illustrated can get to the bottom of it. Maybe AWAW can ask Kevin Martin about him in their research on this important event? Levien was Martin’s agent once upon a time.

  2. farnorth says:

    lol OMG how many pages did you have to click through to find one that had no pictures a black person to come up with that insane take? There are literally dozens of names on that page and like 4 pictures?

    Anyhow back in the land of no tin foil… The Wolves did well to compete with the Warriors last night I was surprised at their comeback after being 21 down.Curry is playing out of this world, man some of those shots.. I mean C’mon… It’s crazy.
    It’s hard to not want to hit the fast forward button and see what we have two years from now, but then we would miss a lot of fun games like last night where you had to feel “man any other team than the Warriors and we would be winning”..

    • seanie blue says:

      Insane take of what? Took me as long as I guess it did you to go look at that page and see those four pictures. The game goes beyond the out of bounds lines, my friend: aren’t you interested in why the Wolves cannot be bothered to show a black person on their official front office page? Do other sports franchises have this problem? We end up with Budinger and Jaric, the Warriors get Draymond Green. Funny how that works! And if you want to look down the line in two years, how about you see Wiggins uncomfortable about sticking with a losing franchise? Or he and KAT competing in the playoffs for another team a couple of years after that? Anyway, I didn’t think it was an insane take. The news yesterday was insightful. Our team might be undergoing a much bigger change in philosophy than we realized, and all anyone cares about is Curry sinking hard shots in a single game against energetic but poor defenders? Give me a break. Look a little harder at the games being played around you, man.

  3. pyrrol says:

    Did anyone else feel massively depressed watching this game? Not because the Wolves lost when lacking Rubio (they competed admirably give that fact) or because Rubio is already banged up (I don’t know that it’s anything to be worried about). Because Golden State is what the league seems to be trying to become, and their wild success only encourages this evolution. I find this team and Curry massively boring to watch.

    It is fun to watch an amazing shooter taking all sorts of long and ill advised shots and make them like free throws. It’s an incredible display of one of the most fundamental basketball skills, shooting. And this isn’t to take away from Curry as an all around player–he’s got amazing ball handling, has improved his defense and is a good passer. His team is also very talented and doesn’t have an obvious weakness. But it does get old. Curry continues to make shots that teams have to give him, that are either defended well or something you really can’t afford to defend well because the rest of the team will get too many easy baskets. Some of the defense against Curry, including in our game, has been inexplicably weak, but even when well defended or taking shots that have no business being taken, he hits them at the same seemingly unsustainable clip. It becomes a forgone conclusion of long shots going in at unprecedented rates, and the strategy is simple–just keep taking whatever shots you can possibly get off, Curry. Basketball is best when there is some strategy, some clashing of contrasting yet equally viable styles. Golden State just keeps doing what it does without an adjustment, without deep strategy over and over, because no one can do anything about what they are doing, making threes at an unprecedented level no matter the defense. The novelty is over for me. I find it amazingly boring, and cheer against GS every game and hope anyone else wins the title. Call me crazy, but I’d rather watch a hook shot than a three point shot–but both should be important in the game. With a team like Golden State nothing seems important except low percentage threes, and no one can challenge them because they keep going in not matter what.

    On the other hand, the Wolves have been very fun to watch this season and they don’t melt down at the first sign of adversity. This season has already been lots of fun for us.

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