Golden State shook off a poor start and several stretches of sloppy play to win 100-99 at Minnesota and start its five-game road trip on a high note.
It could have very easily ended differently.
The Timberwolves (20-33) had a chance to win on their last possession, but, following a miss from Jarrett Jack, Luke Ridnour was off the mark with a just seconds left and Stephen Curry pulled down the rebound as time expired as the Warriors (33-23) won their third straight.
Again, it was Jack leading the charge.
He padded his Sixth Man of the Year resume with 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while turning the ball over just twice. It was the type of performance the Warriors are starting to get accustomed to from Jack, who became the first player since Clyde Drexler in 1985-86 to score 23 points with at least eight assists off the bench.
Jack tied his career-best streak of three-straight 20-point games and provided the team a big spark early.
The Warriors trailed 32-18 at the end of the first quarter and outside of 11 points from Jack on 4-of-4 shooting, the team was a combined 3-of-17 from the field. Minnesota outscored Golden State 24-0 in the paint and had nine fast-break points to the Warriors’ zero in the quarter.
“No question, that first group did a bad job to start the game and (Jack) and Carl came in and made an instant impact and I thought his little flagrant foul on (Greg Stiemsma) got us going a little too,” forward David Lee said. “Great job, again, by Jarrett, he’s playing unbelievable basketball.”
Jack was visibly upset with the way Stiemsma set a screen on him early in the second quarter and drew the flagrant foul after bumping into him during a dead ball with Minnesota up 34-25. Following the foul shots, Golden State outscored Minnesota 17-10 over the next 4:44.
Landry’s contribution can’t be understated, either. He scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds in 33 minutes, proving again to be a good fit playing next to Lee with center Andrew Bogut shelved for the time being with back spasms.
He was reluctant to make any excuses for the team’s poor start, but Landry admitted the early start was different on the team’s body clocks.
“Pretty much like a 12:30 game for us (2:30 locally in Minnesota), but that’s not an excuse,” he said. “We got off to a slow start. We can’t have that if want to continue to have success this season. We clawed and clawed and clawed and came out with the win.”
Andris Biedrins and Harrison Barnes both started, but it’s clear Jackson favors having Jack and Landry on the floor with Lee, Curry and Klay Thompson in crunch time -- and for good reason. The Warriors were plus-14 with Landry on the court and plus-15 with Jack to minus-12 with Biedrins and minus-11 with Barnes.
Minnesota scored 32 points off 22 Warriors turnovers and outscored Golden State 62-36 in the paint. Yet, somehow they kept it close and found a way to win late.
“With about six minutes to go, three- or four-point game, we said, ‘Hey, if we can out execute San Antonio, we can out-execute anybody,’” Lee said.
At one point in the final minute, Jackson had three rookies on the floor.
Draymond Green came up with a big rebound off a Harrison Barnes-missed free throw to keep possession with just over 30 seconds left, prompting Minnesota to commit a quick foul and send Kent Bazemore to the line. He knocked down one of two free throws to extend the Warriors lead to 100-97 with 30.9 on the clock.
A half second of game time later, Ricky Rubio, playing in his first career game against the Warriors, hit a pair of free throws to make it 100-99 Golden State.
Curry hit a deep two with 1:09 left to put the Warriors up 98-97 and Andrei Kirilenko air balled a three when Minnesota go the ball back, which led to a time out from Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
Minnesota led for most of the fourth quarter before Jack tied the game at 93 with a pair of free throws with 3:32 left.
Jack hit a three with 1:47 left to put Golden State up 96-95, but Rubio answered with a tough bucket to get the lead back for Minnesota. He had a chance for a three-point play, but missed the free throw.
Lee registered his league-leading 21st game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds and upped his double-double count to 36 on the season, also a league high. He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Curry scored 18 points and Thompson added ten on just 4-of-13 shooting.
Derrick Williams led Minnesota with 23 points, Nikola Pekovic had 14 and the Minnesota bench combined for just 11 points.
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Bogut Stays Home
Andrew Bogut did not travel with the team to Minnesota after an MRI indicated a protruding disc is the cause of the back spasms that also kept him out Friday against San Antonio. Bogut could join the team on the trip, according to a team spokesman, but that is pending his progress. No timetable has been set for his return.
Next up -- Indiana
The Warriors took the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 1, a 103-102 win in Oakland. Curry had 20 points and 11 assists, while Klay Thompson led the team with 22 points. Pacers all-star Paul George was held scoreless in that game, finishing 0-for-7 from the field in 29 minutes.
Indiana has the best scoring defense in the NBA (89.4 ppg) and leads the league in rebounds per game (46.0). The Pacers (35-21) have won four straight and nine of their last 11 games.