Jan 24, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer (13) drives past Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) in the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors Defense Falters Again in Nail-Biting Loss to Timberwolves


Tonight’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves featured two All-Star starters in Stephen Curry and Kevin Love, and the game was definitely played like an All-Star game.

With neither squad putting forth much of a defensive effort, the Timberwolves hung on to defeat the Warriors 121-120 at Oracle Arena on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd.

It came down to the Warriors’ (26-18) inability to get a stop, which was the theme all night for a team that had made great strides this season to improve defensively. Down 120-119, the Wolves (21-21) found Warrior-killer Kevin Martin in the corner, and he knocked down a jumper to give Minnesota the lead. With eight seconds remaining and a chance to win it, Stephen Curry was double-teamed and gave it up to a wide-open Harrison Barnes, but Barnes’ jumper clanked off the rim as time expired.

The entire game was defined by offense, offense, and more offense. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field, and as one can probably infer, defense seemed to be optional. Three-pointers, three-point plays, offensive putbacks, four-point plays — you name it.

The two teams were tied 63-63 at halftime, but the Warriors ended the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take a seven-point advantage into the fourth. However, the Warriors’ bench was futile in its effort to hold down the fort early in the final quarter. The lead quickly evaporated, and the Wolves rallied to lead 116-111 with under three minutes to play. Andre Iguodala then scored nine consecutive points for the Warriors to put them back in business, but in the end, they fell just short of the Timberwovles.

Tale of the Tape

Warriors:

  • Field Goals: 55.1% (49-89)
  • 3-Pointers: 40.9% (9-22)
  • Rebounds: 41
  • Assists: 31
  • Turnovers: 14

Timberwolves: 

  • Field Goals: 50.0% (47-94)
  • 3-Pointers: 40.9% (9-22)
  • Rebounds: 44
  • Assists: 29
  • Turnovers: 12

MIA: Defense

When the Warriors score 120 points, shoot over 55 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc, and score 27 fastbreak points, they usually win.

Well, not if their defense is missing in action. The Warriors have allowed 121 points or more in three of their last five games, and not surprisingly, all of them have been losses.

Against the Timberwolves, the Warriors were manhandled by the Wolves’ two-headed monster of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic inside. Love, who sustained a knee injury in the second half, played through the discomfort and nearly recorded a triple-double: 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Pekovic added 22 points and 14 rebounds, and he seemingly had his way all night in the post and on the glass.

It really is a shame that a phenomenal performance by Stephen Curry — 33 points, 15 assists, six 3-pointers — was wasted by a lack of defensive effort. Andrew Bogut did all he could, blocking seven shots and grabbing 11 rebounds, but he could do nothing about the poor perimeter defense by his teammates.

The Warriors scoring a lot of points but still losing brings back memories of the “Nellie-ball” squad. Although it is exciting basketball, this style of play will not lead to long-term success.

“We don’t have Kevin Durant, we don’t have LeBron James,” said head coach Mark Jackson (via Art Spander). “We have to do it on defense. We’re not.”

Also MIA: Harrison Barnes

It’s hard to explain how Harrison Barnes wound up with a plus-minus rating of +13, because he looked like an amoeba on the court yet again. Barnes scored a paltry two points and collected three rebounds in 23 minutes of action — nearly half the game. In fact, he had more turnovers (3) than points, and missed the potential game-winning shot that could have been a huge mental boost for the young forward.

Instead, he’ll probably be replaying that shot in his mind all night long. This season, Barnes has been a mere shadow of what he was in the playoffs last season, and part of it must be related to his relegation to the bench.

However, please remember that Barnes is 21 years of age. He has plenty of years and plenty of time to fix whatever is going wrong for him right now.

Tweet of the Night

What’s on Tap

It doesn’t get any easier for the Warriors, as they take on the upstart Trail Blazers on Sunday at home, where they have lost three straight games.

Tags: Golden State Warriors