Warriors 146, Timberwolves 105
Not with a daunting road trip coming up against some of the Eastern Conference's elite teams, Nelson knows better.
"You have to understand that our two wins were against teams that are struggling so I wouldn't make too much out of it," Nelson said following Golden State's 146-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. "But we did play very well and we did a lot of things we've been working on."
Kelenna Azubuike scored a season-high 31 points and Anthony Randolph added 23 to lead the Warriors (2-4), who were coming off consecutive losses to the Clippers and Kings.
Six players in all scored in double figures for Golden State, including Stephen Jackson, whose agent publicly criticized Nelson a day earlier. Jackson had 10 points and a career-high 15 assists while Monte Ellis had 18 points with 10 rebounds to lead the Warriors to their most lopsided win in more than a year.
The 146 points is the most by Golden State since 1994 when the Warriors also had 146 against Minnesota. But it was their defense that made the biggest impact, recording 22 steals that is the franchise's most in a single game since 1989.
"This is what we're capable of doing," Ellis said. "We got a lot of deflections, got the fast break going. We did a lot of help defense, rebounded the ball and got out and ran."
Jonny Flynn had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds while Al Jefferson added 18 points to lead Minnesota, which lost its seventh straight. The Timberwolves, who haven't won since beating New Jersey by two points in the season-opener, committed 28 turnovers.
"We've maintained from the beginning this is going to be a process, this is not something that's going to turn around in the first 10 games of the regular season," Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. "We knew we were going to take some lumps. Until we have an idea of a nice starting unit and a set rotation where guys can feel comfortable and when they're going to play, we're probably going to continue to play up and down and be inconsistent."
Running Nelson's high-tempo offense to near-perfection, the Warriors scored 33 points in the first quarter and 41 in the second. The 74 points were the most by Golden State in a first half this season and the most by the team since April 8, 2008 when the Warriors scored 77 against Sacramento.
Ellis and Azubuike did most of the damage in the first half.
The duo combined for 26 points in the first quarter, with Ellis adding three steals and two assists as the Warriors scored repeatedly on easy transition buckets. Of their first 14 baskets, eight were layups and two came on dunks.
"That was huge for us," Ellis said. "That's how we really got our rhythm going. We got the steals and got out running."
The Timberwolves, who went into the game averaging only 91.3 points a game, couldn't keep up.
Rambis tried changing his lineup in an effort to shake the Timberwolves (1-7) out of their slump but it didn't help much. They fell behind by 19 at halftime and trailed by as much as 45 on the way to their seventh straight loss.
Azubuike did all of his scoring in the first three quarters then spent the final 12 minutes on the bench when Nelson emptied his bench. The third-year guard shot 13 of 19 from the floor, slicing through Minnesota's defense without much resistance while coming within two points of his career best of 33 points set Nov. 2, 2007.
Golden State got a big boost from Randolph, who helped fill the scoring and rebounding gap left by the absence of centers Andris Biedrins (back) and Ronny Turiaf (knee), neither of whom suited up.
The Warriors' first-round pick in 2008, Randolph went 8 of 14 the floor overall, scoring on back-to-back dunks in the third quarter to give Golden State an 87-60 lead. He also helped slow down Minnesota's Al Jefferson, who scored seven points in the first quarter but was mostly quiet after that.
Anthony Morrow's 3-pointer with 2:53 left in the third made it 101-73 and rookie Stephen Curry added another 3 at the buzzer to push the Warriors' lead to 34 heading into the fourth quarter.
Morrow finished with 20 points and Corey Maggette had 11.
Before the game Nelson said the Warriors are still open to trading Jackson, a day after the disgruntled star's agent made disparaging comments about the coach, who needs just 22 more wins to pass Lenny Wilkins for the most coaching wins in NBA history.
"We're trying to accommodate him," Nelson said. "If we can get a good deal, we'll do it. I said that over a month, month and a half ago."
In an interview late Sunday with ESPN Jackson's agent, Mark Stevens, blamed Nelson for breaking up the Warriors' playoff team from 2007 and questioned his ability to coach.