Green, Warriors hold off Timberwolves, 109-104
MINNEAPOLIS -- The San Antonio Spurs have given the rest of the NBA a defensive blueprint for beating the Golden State Warriors.
If the defensively challenged Minnesota Timberwolves can nearly pull it off, the defending champions should expect to see it a lot more down the stretch as they chase history.
Draymond Green had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists to help the Warriors narrowly avoid their first two-game skid in nearly a year with a 109-104 victory over the Timberwolves on Monday night.
Klay Thompson scored 17 points and hit all five of his 3-pointers, and the Warriors (63-7) overcame a second straight poor shooting night from Stephen Curry. The reigning MVP missed 11 of his 17 shots, including seven of his nine 3-pointers, but still had 19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
After the Spurs aggressively switched on every screen and held Golden State to 79 points in a victory on Saturday, the Timberwolves employed the same strategy and nearly pulled off an upset.
"We got the win, and it proves we can win ugly, or if we have to win by a large margin we can," said Thompson, who went 0 for 9 on 2-point shots.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Ricky Rubio added 20 points, 11 assists and four rebounds for the Timberwolves (22-48), who gave the Warriors all they could handle.
The Wolves have struggled mightily on defense since turning things over to their youngest players, but interim coach Sam Mitchell implemented the new strategy to great effect.
"I think San Antonio did a pretty good job and we followed their game plan," Rubio said. "It was different than what we used to do, but I think we came up big."
The last time the Warriors lost two in a row in the regular season was April 5 and 7, when they were starting to turn their eyes to the playoffs. This year, in spite of their record-setting start, they still entered the game just three ahead of the Spurs in the Western Conference.
They are not only chasing the top seed in the West, but are no longer hiding their desire to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record of 72 wins in a season. The Warriors are currently ahead of that pace.
"As a team, we can't do much better with Klay Thompson and Steph Curry," Mitchell said. "But that team is more than Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. ... They have a complete team from 1-15."
Nothing is yet guaranteed for these Warriors, who are getting every team's best shot every night. And Monday was no different.
The Warriors were short-handed, playing without Andrew Bogut (left foot), Andre Iguodala (left ankle) and Festus Ezeli (left knee), and they had their hands full with the precocious Wolves.
The Wolves gave white towels to every one of the fans, and the first sellout crowd of the season responded with full-throated enthusiasm as their young team went toe-to-toe with mighty Golden State.
Minnesota ripped off a 10-0 run in the third quarter to take an 89-81 lead, with Rubio orchestrating the pups Andrew Wiggins (25 points), Towns and Zach LaVine (19 points) up and down the court.
"It's been a tough stretch for us, and it's not going to get any easier," said Green, who closed the game with two tough layups. "It's something we'll fight through. It's not something we haven't been through before, and it's not something we won't go through again, so we'll be fine."
Curry went 1 for 12 from 3-point range and 4 for 18 for the game in their 33rd straight loss at the AT&T Center. Curry has such a high standard for himself, that even a two-game blip like this one is grabbing attention. Most of his highlights came on rainbow heaves a split-second after a foul was called.
"I've felt pretty confident. I just haven't been making them," Curry said. "It happens. For me, I'm not going to get too high, too low. ... I'm not going to stop shooting."
Warriors: Bogut received an MRI on his bothersome left foot/toe that was scheduled to be reviewed by medical staff Monday night. ... Ezeli is making progress in his return from surgery on his left knee six weeks ago, the team said. He is expected to start practicing soon. ... Coach Steve Kerr started James Michael McAdoo at forward for the first time in his career.
Timberwolves: Their 18 turnovers led to 23 points from Golden State. ... Minnesota's bench was outscored 36-8. ... Rubio (3 for 7) hit more 3s than Curry.
Warriors: Host Clippers on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Host Sacramento on Wednesday.