MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jarrett Jack has been a rock-steady pro for eight years now, the kind of reliable performer contending teams crave.
Even though he is still coming off the bench for Golden State, he’s found himself in more of a starring role lately, and he showed the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday that he is equally comfortable as the leader of a playoff-caliber unit.
Jack had 23 points and eight assists to rally the Warriors to a 100-99 victory over the Timberwolves.
David Lee had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Warriors, who trailed by 16 in the first quarter before Jack jumpstarted the offense as he has all season. Reserve Carl Landry added 19 points and nine rebounds for Golden State, which has won three in a row following a six-game losing streak.
“It’s new to a lot of people,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “But that’s who he is for us. He’s been a sparkplug off the bench for us. He’s been a leader. He’s been a no-nonsense guy with a tremendous voice.”
Jack hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range, grabbed five rebounds and delivered one forearm shiver that woke the sleepy Warriors up in the first game of a tough five-game road trip.
“We try to have resolve,” Jack said. “Some resiliency, fight, but the one thing we respect the most of all, that coach has been preaching since day one is effort. Through it all, through the turnovers, the missed shots, through everything that wasn’t going our way, we still played hard, and that was the thing that really allowed us to stay in the ball game.”
Derrick Williams had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had a chance to win it in the final seconds. But Luke Ridnour’s mad dash down the court ended with a floater that was off the mark, and the Warriors escaped.
Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Ricky Rubio had 16 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and six steals for Minnesota, which scored just 18 points in the fourth.
“We couldn’t find our rhythm in the last quarter,” Rubio said. “We have to practice our five-on-five offense. Sometimes we’re stuck.”
The Wolves were up six with six minutes to play, but Jack hit two free throws and a big 3-pointer from the top of the arch for a 96-95 lead, validating the lobbying that Jackson has been doing on his behalf for sixth man of the year.
Rubio scored on a drive to the basket and Stephen Curry hit a jumper from the right wing to reclaim the lead. Jack then made the play of the game, tapping a long rebound out to Harrison Barnes for another possession in the final 40 seconds.
Curry finished with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting and five steals to help the Warriors overcome 22 turnovers that led to 32 Timberwolves points and a 62-36 beating on points in the paint.
The Warriors are going to have to continue their climb back from that long skid without center Andrew Bogut for the near future. Jackson said before the game that they’re going to be patient with Bogut’s back injury. There was no timetable put on Bogut’s return and Jackson was resolute that Andris Biedrins, Festus Ezeli and the rest of Golden State’s big men were ready to pick up the slack.
They certainly weren’t ready for Pekovic.
Minnesota came out rolling, with Rubio throwing between-the-legs passes to Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko and connecting with Williams on a soaring alley-oop to help the Wolves open up a 16-point lead in the first quarter. The Timberwolves held a stunning 24-0 advantage on points in the paint after the first quarter.
After scoring 30 points and dishing out 10 assists in a thrilling win over San Antonio on Friday night, Jack hit his first five shots — four of them 3-pointers — to help Golden State climb back into the game. The fiery leader drew a flagrant foul for throwing a forearm to Greg Stiemsma’s chest, but that only seemed to get his teammates going.
Lee scored the team’s first eight points of the second half, the last on a soft jumper to give the Warriors a 60-59 lead.
“Those are the games that I think that are the difference between being a playoff team,” Lee said. “It’s easy to get up for a game against San Antonio at home on national TV, but come on a Sunday afternoon, first game of the road trip, everybody’s a little tired from traveling . . . We got off to a bad start, but we didn’t panic and we found a way to come back to win.”
Notes: Rubio also had six turnovers. . . . Kent Bazemore had 1 point, the only other Warriors sub to score in the game. . . . Timberwolves PF Kevin Love, who has played just 18 games this season because of a broken hand, received the Kia Community Assist award before the game for his winter coat drive.