Napier, Covington lead Wolves past Warriors 99-84
MINNEAPOLIS — With the stars still out, the supporting cast stepped up again for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Shabazz Napier and Robert Covington each scored 20 points to help the Timberwolves beat the Golden State Warriors 99-84 on Thursday night in a matchup of injury-ravaged teams.
Napier scored 20 or more for the third consecutive game. The last time he did that was Dec. 23-30, 2017, for Portland. He also had seven assists. The Timberwolves won for the second time in three games. Both wins have come without Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
“I have always been an aggressive guard, but it makes everything else easier,” Napier said. “I have been trying to get other guys involved, and I have been very fortunate to make great passes and have other guys make shots.”
Naz Reid added 13 points, Kelan Martin had 12 and Minnesota held Golden State to the lowest points total by an opponent this season.
“We’ve navigated through some injuries, some illness, been some personal circumstances that were unforeseen and in a lot of cases, we’ve had guys step up,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said.
Glen Robinson III scored 16 points for the Warriors, and Eric Paschall had 13, They have lost three straight after a four-game win streak from Dec. 20-27.
“It was disappointing, because we’ve had a good stretch of basketball,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “The last few weeks we’ve played very well. So this feels like the exception rather than the rule. But we’ve got to prove that’s the case on Saturday.”
Golden State was without D’Angelo Russell, along with long-absent stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Timberwolves went on an 18-3 first-quarter run and led by as many as 22 in the first half. They held Golden State to 19 points in the first quarter and 41 in the first half.
“We just got out to a slow start,” Robinson said. “We’ve been coming out with some energy, coming out better. That’s on us, on the starting group. The second half, the second unit kept us in it a little bit.”
The Warriors went on an 11-2 run that started in the final minute of the third quarter and carried into the fourth. They trimmed the lead to eight at 92-84 on Damion Lee’s basket with 4:35 left. That was as close as they would get.
Napier and Covington hit 3-pointers down the stretch, and the Timberwolves held the Warriors scoreless the rest of the way.
“We’ve been playing hard,” Martin said. “That continued on both ends. Obviously, some shots not falling, but we make up for it on the defensive end with our energy, intensity and then get out in transition and score.”
Minnesota was playing for the second consecutive night. The Timberwolves improved to 2-3 when playing the second game of a back-to-back.
“As a coach, I don’t know if you’re ever satisfied,” Saunders said. “There is always work to be done, always things you could improve upon. But when it comes to energy and being engaged, that’s a big positive for us on the second night of a back-to-back.”
Warriors: Russell (right shoulder contusion), Willie Cauley-Stein (flu-like symptoms) and Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness) joined long-term absentees Curry (left hand fracture) and Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation) in missing the game. Jordan Poole is on a G League assignment with Santa Cruz. No Warrior has appeared in every game this season.
Timberwolves: Towns (left knee sprain), Wiggins (flu-like symptoms), Jeff Teague (right knee sprain), Treveon Graham (flu-like symptoms), Jake Layman (left toe sprain) and Noah Vonleh (left gluteal contusion) did not play. Two-way guard Jordan McLaughlin was recalled from Iowa of the G League on Wednesday. The Timberwolves won for only the second time this season when scoring fewer than 110 points.
ON THE GLASS
The Timberwolves outrebounded the Warriors 52-43. Covington led the way with 10 rebounds, while Jarrett Culver had four of Minnesota’s 17 offensive rebounds.
“They competed harder than we did,” Kerr said.
Warriors: Host Detroit on Saturday.
Timberwolves: At Cleveland on Sunday.