OAKLAND, CALIF. - Six days after they remodeled their franchise by trading away beloved Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for injured big man Andrew Bogut, the Golden State Warriors retired former star Chris Mullin's No. 17 jersey number in a halftime ceremony Monday night that was both heartfelt tribute and stupid spectacle.
The halftime production that featured Mullin's "Run TMC" teammates Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway and coach Don Nelson as well as former Warriors great Rick Barry also both delayed by 38 minutes and transformed the Timberwolves' 97-93 victory at Oracle Arena.
Before that elongated intermission, the Wolves had cruised to a 14-point halftime lead.
After it finally ended, they clung on tightly in the fourth quarter, ending a three-game losing streak and winning for the second time on this seven-game, 13-day road trip that concludes with games at San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
They did so with Kevin Love delivering another decisive 36-point, 17-rebound performance and with former Warrior Anthony Tolliver scoring all of his 10 points in a fourth quarter when the Wolves persevered together after they had come apart with a sideline spat during Sunday's loss at Sacramento.
On Monday, Wolves coach Rick Adelman played point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea together down the stretch for the first time since Ricky Rubio's season ended 10 days earlier and the two each delivered 10 assists one night after Love and Barea confronted each other presumably over Barea's decision-making and shot selection.
"It was good that they got to be out there together," Love said. "Tensions were running high last night, not only me and J.J. but the whole team. We had to distribute the ball, pass the ball. We were all looking for each other. We all stepped up. This is what had to happen tonight."
One night after they got thumped at Sacramento, the Timberwolves led 6-0, 21-10, 34-18 early on Monday and they still led 49-35 by halftime.
Then the Warriors brought chairs and easels and dignitaries -- including Timberwolves broadcaster and Mullin's former teammate Jim Petersen and Wolves director of athletic performance and longtime friend Mark Grabow -- onto the court.
They honored the Hall of Fame forward who played 13 of his 16 NBA seasons in a Golden State uniform with a ceremony that dragged on even longer than intended when the hometown crowd turned on new team owner Joe Lacob with a continued chorus of boos, presumably for trading away Ellis.
First Mullin and then Barry came forth to the center-court microphone in unsuccessful attempts to quiet a hostile audience that Mullin and others just moments had called the greatest fans in the NBA.
"I was just embarrassed, actually," said Tolliver, whose team came out for warmups only to watch the ceremony go on and on. "I don't even know why."
Maybe they really are the NBA's greatest, most knowledge fans because by the time the game finally resumed, the Warriors had found their inspiration while the Wolves seemingly left their mojo back in the locker room.
The Warriors opened the second half with a 27-12 run and suddenly the Wolves' 14-point halftime lead was a 63-61 deficit with fewer than three minutes remaining after Golden State rookie Klay Thompson -- son of former Gophers star Mychal Thompson -- scored 12 points in the third after he went scoreless before halftime.
"We were just standing there watching it," Adelman said. "I mean, I love Chris Mullin, but I thought maybe they could have cut that, controlled it. I have no idea what their priority is. I knew they [Golden State] were getting emotional in their locker room, but I don't know. I think they would have come out strong either way."
Love got things turned back the Wolves' way with a banked three-pointer just before third quarter's end that sent them into the final quarter with a 71-67 lead on a night when Nikola Pekovic and Michael Beasley each played little because of recurring injuries.
"That was a huge 3," Love said. "Obviously, after the fact, I was calling bank. I was screaming it."
From there, the Wolves persevered, deciding the game with a 9-3 run midway through the fourth quarter in which Tolliver and Love combined for all nine points.
On Friday, Tolliver played 23 minutes, didn't make any of his four shots and was scoreless in a loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.
On Monday, he went 4-for-5 from the field, including 2-for-3 on three pointers, and scored all of his 10 points in that fourth quarter while playing 16 minutes.
"I didn't even think about it, I didn't even know that was the case," Tolliver said about his statistics. "I just go out and play. I don't keep track of stats. I just go out and help my team win. If I take zero shots and we win, I'm happy. And tonight, I'm happy."