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.