Warriors 115, Wolves 102: Been There, Done That

The Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) grabs a rebound against the Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half of their NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

(Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

The end of the first quarter belonged to the Timberwolves.

Overall, last night’s game belonged to the Warriors, winners of 73 games a year ago, and losers of just 2 games as we’re about to enter December. The Wolves had a lead and then let that lead go, but last night’s loss wasn’t one of those losses that fans should fret over. This wasn’t one of those blown leads that would have been fixed with a small adjustment or two. This is the Warriors we’re talking about.

There is always nuance. It’s never just one thing. But this game was certainly a case of a young, talented team taking on an experienced (but still relatively young), talented team.

The Wolves were able to push out to an early lead, through good interior defense from the starting bigs, some fast break success from Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns doing all of his typical KAT things (hitting the corner three, scoring in the post despite strong double teams, etc.). On top of all that, they were down by 10 points to start that game.

It took the Warriors nearly half of the second quarter to get on the board at all after that, as the Wolves steadily built a lead, and looked like the talented young Wolves that everyone scours league pass to find. But after Durant got the Wolves on the board that quarter, they went on a roll and the Wolves couldn’t really come back. By the end of the second quarter, Durant had hit a three pointer at the buzzer and the Warriors were up 10. By the end of the third, the Warriors were up 17.

The thing from this game fans can take solace in is that the Wolves, while down by double digits for much of the game, never really looked out of place against the Warriors. The difference in talent level, while obviously leaning Golden State right now, isn’t that vast. The Wolves have lots of talent, the difference really comes in mindsets and experience at this point. When the Wolves were up 10, they were up 10 against the Golden State Warriors. That is a big deal, and something they likely knew would be hard to uphold for the next 3 quarters. When their lead grew, then started to shrink, instead of calmly getting back to square one, their play became erratic, and the Warriors noticed and took advantage.

When the Warriors got their lead against the Wolves, and pushed it to double digits, that was just another day’s work. They didn’t feel the pressure being up that the Wolves seemed to experience.

Of course, there are other, smaller things that didn’t work, and in some cases haven’t worked ina while. With the exception of Friday’s 4th quarter, Andrew Wiggins has been ineffective the past 5 games. Ricky Rubio has been inconsistent and fearful as ever trying to score the basketball. Some have even suggested that Tyus Jones has been the Wolves best point guard offensively, but Tom Thibodeau remains skeptical on putting him in the regular rotation. The bench remains an uncertainty.

All of this was part of the equation when the Wolves faced off against the Western Conference favorites, but ultimately, this game was one where experience triumphed over youth and pure (and, sometimes raw) talent.

I mean, look at this. No matter how you may be feeling after last night’s loss, this was fun. If nothing else, just watch this.

The fun is coming. The wins are coming. Maybe not as quickly as some were hoping for, but it is coming.

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  1. Well, all I know is…. the Wolves better start stringing some victories together or they very well may be out of the “playoffs” picture before Christmas. They’re unfortunately trending toward another lottery appearance.

  2. I saw some hope in this game. Let’s face it, better teams than our young wolf pups have gone into that arena and come out double digit losers. The team is 5-11 now, but had they beat the Nets,Nuggets and Pelicans, three teams that we should be better than, we would be 8-8 and everyone would be saying they are going to make a big leap by the end of the year. They didn’t of course and the reason is lack of experience to handle runs and lack of depth, which has been disappointing this year.

    We all hoped, this summer, that players with experience would have come here in FA and added much needed wisdom to our young guys, like KG, Tayshawn and Andre were supposed to last year. Instead we got some good guys, but no one with real leadership that could really help this team. Brandon Rush was supposed to give us three point marksmanship. He hasn’t. Cole was supposed to be a shot blocker and tough guy. Not much of either. The other additions haven’t logged as many minutes combined as Adrian Payne. That tells you how much our new guys have helped our core. Kris Dunn needs to go to the D-League and play a lot, if he is to help us this year.

    I wish Thibs would play some different combinations than he has at times and I wish he would let the guys figure it out when they aren’t playing as a team and not burn timeouts like he has. Last night, when GS made their runs, the starters needed to slow down, instead they tried to match the W’s with three pointers, which picked up the pace and played right into their hands. The Warriors remind me of the rookie Randy Moss Vikings, they wanted teams to throw to catch-up and get into a track meet. So do the Warriors. KAT needed to kill them down low, instead of drifting away from the basket. He can hit those shots, but what they needed was to work the ball down low to KAT and then have him look for cutters and spot up three point shooters. They also needed to rebound against a smaller team like GS. Experienced ball players would have known that . I had hoped Thibs would get these young guys to see it too.

  3. This game feels so long ago and is in such a large pile of similar losses that it’s hard to remember specifics. One thing I will say is that comparing oneself to GS is pretty unfair. Quite frankly, teams should be barred from being able to hoard talent like they have. It’s ruining the league. How does Cleveland pay for all those guys? We could barely afford to surround Love with anyone and in Cleveland he’s the 3rd option on a team with the best all around player on earth. GS added one of the top three players on the planet after going to the finals two years running. The rich keep getting richer. Against us they looked like a team with no weakness, but their bench is a bit more shallow than it should be if they expect a championship. That’s about it. Still, even though it is silly to compare a spoiled team like GS to a start up like us, it’s hard not to notice the way they move and pass on offense. It looks nothing like what we are attempting. They always have great action to generate open looks, plays to get them through dry spells. With their talent, they hardly need such well orchestrated offense to get good looks—simple fear of Durrant and Curry’s shot and shot creation is often enough, but they run it right. With their firepower and vet wile makes it so they hardly have a momentary dry spell, but you bet your boots, if they do run into one, they have plays and action to get them easy looks and back on track. No such luck with us so far this season…

    As for the bench, I’m disappointed. We’ve been snake bitten there, but even so, our bench looked to have issues. But most teams have some sorts of bench weaknesses. Things have not come together for our bench. I firmly believe they won’t until Thibs stops playing Dunn as the primary backup. At 22, with 4 years of college ball he has little feel for the game. That does not bode well. Meanwhile, Tyus has weaknesses, but has been a winner at every level he’s played because of his great natural feel for the game. He’s proven to have that feel for the NBA game, too. That’s a chunk of our bench problem right there. Rush has not really been healthy for a significant stretch, so maybe we have not really seen him do his thing just yet. I’m worried though, but it is hard to imagine he’ll be this awful all season. Bjelica is doing decent, but he suffers from being surrounded by the guys he has to play with, particularly Dunn. Shabazz just is not improving on his ‘put your head down’ rookie mentality. He’s not wising up at all. I think this is it. Aldrich shows flashes, but has been inconsistent. I don’t think he has the physical abilities to defend like he has been in recent years on a bad team. If he’s surrounded by a pretty good bench his smarts and decent size are enough, but on a struggling bench, he’s just not good enough athletically to be a major defensive presence and only provides the most basic offense. He does play hard and usually smart. For some reason Thibs plays Payne ahead of a competent vet (Hill). I think he doesn’t like Hill’s personality/attitude. Payne has been playing good for Payne (not good generally speaking) but it doesn’t make sense for a vet starved team to leave a guy like Hill on the bench in all situations. Overall, the bench has issues that will drag on this team, more then most of us were hoping and expecting. However, a few moves, primary among them giving Tyus the backup keys, could make them competent. That all depends on time, Thibs figuring out lineups, and Thibs getting a better offensive scheme cooking. Trades may happen before the deadline.