At various points throughout the night, the Warriors would run out to a double-digit lead, only to allow the Timberwolves to cut into the deficit while they went through the motions for a string of plays. The brief moments of closeness were a mirage for Tom Thibodeau’s group.
Playing without Jimmy Butler (sore knee) for the fourth consecutive game, Minnesota’s defense got sliced and diced all over the floor. The Warriors were a scorching 21-for-37 from beyond the arc, raining down threes all over the floor. The tone was set early in this one as the Warriors got all kinds of different looks at the rim, rattling off 39 fast-break points in the first half, and an NBA season-high 48 for the game. Those 48 points are the most fast-break points the Warriors have scored in a game since at least the 1996-1997 season. By outscoring Minnesota 48-15 on the break, the Warriors also established the largest point differential on the fast break in a game this season.
Kevin Durant led the way, racking up a triple-double of 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. But it was Klay Thompson who provided a big spark in the third quarter by draining all four of his 3-point attempts and finishing with 25 points. Stephen Curry also chipped in with 25 points and nine assists of his own as the Warriors continually made a couple of baskets in a row when they needed to make a run.
The Warriors play at a different level than any other team in the league when they want to because of the sheer amount of talent on their roster. Draymond Green wasn’t much of a factor, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, but the Warriors didn’t need him on this night because of the tone set by their other three All-Stars.
Thursday marked the first time in Durant’s career that he had double-digit assists in two straight games. He had a career-high 14 in Tuesday’s win over the New York Knicks. The Warriors are finding one another at an exceptionally high rate, combining for 77 assists over the past two games.
No other team in the league has that kind of talent luxury, including a Timberwolves group playing without Butler and on the second night of a road back-to-back. Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 11 rebounds, but Andrew Wigginswas a disappointing 4-for-18 from the field and didn’t have much of an impact on either end of the floor. Jamal Crawford had a nice night from the field while scoring 21 points, but he can’t be counted on for that type of performance every night, especially as the playoffs draw closer. The Timberwolves are going to need more consistency from Wiggins, their $148 million dollar man.
Getting torched by the Golden State offense does not make the Timberwolves unique, but giving up 249 points over the past two nights, which includes Wednesday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, will only cause more frustration for Thibodeau as he watches the game tape. The good news for the Timberwolves is that Thibodeau sounded optimistic that Butler would return soon as the All-Star swingman continues battling through some knee pain.
Thursday night offered the latest example of just how large the gap is between where the Timberwolves are, and where they want to be in the future. The Warriors remain that much better than everyone else when they want to be.