OAKLAND, Calif. — Two teams that played Friday and traveled after the game will get their depth checked Saturday night when the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors meet for the first time this season.
The Timberwolves had to work the harder of the two Friday, rallying from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit at Phoenix to overtake the Suns 98-85.
Minnesota outscored Phoenix 31-10 in the final period to end a three-game losing streak.
“Our best fourth quarter of the year,” gushed Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau afterward. “Things weren't going well in that game, but the fight was there and we just kept working the game and the game turned.”
Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns scored seven points apiece in the comeback, which extracted a toll from the Timberwolves.
Wiggins wound up playing 41 of the 48 minutes and three other starters, including Towns, at least 35, leaving Minnesota in less-than-ideal shape Saturday night on the second night of a back-to-back.
That said, the youthful Timberwolves have responded well to the adversity of the NBA schedule this season, winning on the back half of a consecutive-nights sequence both times they have encountered it.
Neither of those wins, however, has come at the expense of a two-time defending conference champ.
The Warriors have played like a three-peat candidate of late, winning 10 in a row, including 109-85 on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
No Golden State starter played more than 36 minutes in the wire-to-wire effort.
The Warriors nonetheless will have an incentive when they take the court Saturday — to play better than Friday.
“It was one of the worst basketball games I've seen in my life,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr insisted to reporters afterward. “We were awful, and they were awful. The people who bought tickets should get their money back, honestly.”
Kerr is making no such claim about his home fans. They have witnessed Golden State win its last five home games by an average of 20.6 points.
The Warriors, who had to jettison much of their depth in order to create space to sign Kevin Durant in the offseason, have not played their best basketball this season on the second night of back-to-backs.
One of their two losses — 117-97 to the Lakers — came in the second game of a consecutive-night scheduling, and they had to hang on for a 124-121 win at Milwaukee the day after a blowout win at Boston last week.
The Timberwolves won the most recent meeting with the Warriors, handing Golden State one of its nine losses last season, 124-117 in overtime on April 5.
Wiggins (32) and Towns (20) combined for 52 points in that shocker, but it was backup Shabazz Muhammad who stunned the Warriors that night with 35 points.
Muhammad played a scoreless seven minutes off the bench Friday night in Phoenix.
The Warriors had won seven straight and 14 of 15 over Minnesota before the April matchup.