BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Taking advantage of a season high 57 points off the bench to offset the absence of Kevin Durant, the Warriors broke open a close game in the third quarter to blow out the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-101 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
Down by one at halftime, Golden State came out smoking in the third quarter scoring a season high 44 points to take a 17 point lead into the last 12 minutes of the game and break the Wolves five game winning streak.
Improving to 9-3 with their eight win in their last nine games, the Warriors were a different team after the break,bouncing back from a sloppy first half in which they allowed 15 Timberwolves points off of turnovers. It was also their fifth straight win by 17 or more points, only the second time the team has achieved that in franchise history.
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 28 points, including 6 three pointers. Steph Curry added 22 while Omri Casspi scored a season high 13. Andre Iguodala, making his first start in nearly two seasons in place of the injured Durant, tallied 11.
Playing their first regular season game against the Warriors after meeting in China during the preseason, Minnesota came into the contest atop their division, seemingly revitalized by the offseason addition of Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls to their young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. But on Wednesday the trio could only muster a combined 44 points. Wiggins led the way with 17 while Towns added 16 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
After the game, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau was quick to credit the Warriors while noting the need for further improvement from his own team. “You’ve got to give them credit, but I also thought we hurt ourselves. To beat a team like this, you have to play for 48 minutes. We didn’t do that. I think you learn a lot from playing against them because that’s what a championship team looks like. I think their willingness to sacrifice and play for each other is what makes them great. They take good shots. They make the game easy for each other. When you do that, the results will be good.”
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was effusive in his praise for the contributions of his bench. “I actually kind of like these games when we have to sit somebody in a weird way. It’s good for our team. We are lucky we are in a position where we have so much talent that we can afford to miss one of our main guys and still be able to compete at a high level.”
Kerr added, “On a night like this, it allows guys like Casspi and Young to step in there and get good minutes. It’s good for morale and it’s good for individual development. It forces the group to play together when you are missing one of your main guys. We are fortunate to be able to, with our depth and our talent, make up for the loss of a great player.”
Next up, the Warriors return to action Saturday night at Oracle against the rejuvenated Philadelphia 76ers.