The Golden State Warriors were handed the most shocking defeat of their remarkable season Tuesday night, losing 124-117 in overtime to a Minnesota Timberwolves (26-52) headed to the NBA Draft lottery.
The loss puts the Warriors (69-9) in serious jeopardy of breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ single season win mark of 72, as Golden State now needs to win all four remaining games to finish 73-9.
[su_note note_color=”#f0dec8″ text_color=”#603813″ radius=”6″]This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Oracle Arena.[/su_note]
Golden State lead for nearly the entire game, but the young and feisty Wolves chipped away despite finding themselves in a 15 point hole after eight minutes. Minnesota tied the contest at 106-106 on an Andrew Wiggins jumper with 19 seconds remaining before Andre Iguodala failed to launch his corner three as time expired.
The Warriors would never lead again. The normally stout Golden State defense didn’t have an answer for the 21-year old Wiggins or 20-year-old rookie of the year candidate Karl Anthony Towns in overtime, and were outscored 18-11 in the five minute period. Wiggins finished with 32 points, while Towns finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds and played excellent defense throughout.
Klay Thompson lead the Warriors with 28 points while Curry managed to impact the game with 15 assists despite an uncharacteristically poor shooting night going 4-of-14 from beyond the arc. The most prominent misses were two wide-open threes late in overtime that sealed the victory for Minnesota.
Yet it was Golden State’s 24 turnovers that proved to be their undoing on a night in which they shot 50 percent from the field as a team. A frustrated Steve Kerr said the issue started in the last six minutes of the first quarter, after the team burst out to a 25-10 lead:
“We decided to turn it into a show and we started turning it over like crazy.”
Normally an optimist, Kerr wasn’t in the mood for silver linings or excuses, dismissing a question about fatigue as a contributing factor to the loss:
“It was a pretty bad night all around.”
Curry also admitted disappointment, but described a nuanced mood in the locker room following the game:
“Frustration but also optimism, knowing it’s not the end of the world. … It hurts to not play our best, to not do what we need to do to get a win, so it’s kind’ve quiet but you look around and everyone’s giving each other head nods and dapping each other up knowing tomorrow’s a new day. We’re still in a great position to get that number one seed.
Before Tuesday, the Warriors were 61-0 when leading at halftime and had won 114 consecutive games when leading by at least 15.
From a shooting standpoint it appeared as if Curry and Harrison Barnes had switched bodies in the first half. Curry started 0-for-8 and didn’t score his first points until hitting two free throws with under a minute remaining before the break. He did however manage 10 first-half dishes, including a midair behind the back pass to Shaun Livingston that elicited gasps throughout Oracle Arena.
Barnes, meanwhile, dropped 18 in the first half and hit his first four three pointers. He also had the play of the game with a vicious one-handed tip slam midway through the second quarter.
The Warriors extended the lead back to double digits after Draymond Green re-entered as the small ball center midway with six minutes remaining in the half, entering the break with a 55-46 lead.
After a halftime sneaker change, Curry went in full human torch mode to close the third quarter, hitting three consecutive three-pointers to close the quarter.
The Warriors extended the lead back to double digits after Green reentered as the small ball center midway through the second quarter. Warriors entered the half leading 55-46.
Curry hit his first three of the game three minutes after the restart, and scored 12 in the quarter, but the Wolves continued to hang with Golden State, trimming that halftime lead by one entering the fourth.
The Warriors’ four remaining games consist of home and home matchups with the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.
Golden State first has to pass Thursday’s test when the Spurs (65-12) visit Oakland for the last time before the playoffs. It seems likely that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will rest his key players for that matchup, but it remains unclear if he’ll do the same when Golden State travels to San Antonio on Sunday.
Andre Iguodala returned to game action midway through the first quarter after sitting out with an ankle sprain since March 12. Iguodala mostly struggled in only 19 minutes of action….Tuesday marked the second time this season the Warriors have lost two out of three.