OAKLAND, CALIF. – The clock was winding down just before halftime Monday and Stephen Curry was dribbling up the floor. He lobbed a pass to the hoop to Draymond Green, who, instead of shooting it, contorted his body and fired a pass to Klay Thompson at the opposite wing. Thompson drained the shot as the buzzer sounded.
If a team is going to beat the two-time defending champion Warriors, especially in Oracle Arena, it is going to have to play a near-perfect game, which includes hitting your threes, because the Warriors are going to make plays like that in addition to being an offensive juggernaut. The Wolves weren’t quite good enough Monday night, falling 116-108 and starting their four-game road trip 0-2. They fell to 0-9 on the road against Western Conference opponents, including 0-7 in the Pacific Time Zone this season.
“I liked the resiliency and the fight,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s just that a team like that, you can’t give them a second and third crack at it.”
The Warriors seemed to make the Wolves pay for every mistake in hitting 19-for-43 from three-point range while the Wolves hit just 7-for-25 from deep. The Warriors scored 27 points off 16 turnovers, including 11 in the third quarter, when they outscored the Wolves 28-20 to restore a double-digit lead they maintained most of the fourth.
“They make you pay for [turnovers] heavily,” said Robert Covington, who scored seven points in his return from a one-game absence for right knee soreness. “They’re a big team that knocks down a lot of threes and kill you off turnovers and they hit a lot of dagger threes that really hurt us.”
Curry scored 38 points, while Thompson added 26 and Kevin Durant had 22. Draymond Green had seven points, 10 rebounds and seven assists after missing the previous 11 games because of a right toe injury.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolves, shooting 11-for-15 from the floor. Derrick Rose added 21 points off the bench and Andrew Wiggins had 20.
“They want you to play erratic,” Rose said of the Warriors. “They want you to speed up.”
And the Wolves played right into their hands. The Warriors not only took advantage of the Wolves' turnovers, but they also turned 14 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points, several of which came as the Wolves tried without success to chip away at Golden State’s lead most of the night. The Wolves never did take the lead.
“The second-chance points and turnovers are what led us to our downfall tonight,” Towns said. “It’s disheartening, but at the end of the day also you have to understand that those things happen. We got to fix them. We didn’t stop the bleeding all night. That’s what really led us to our demise.”
Beating Golden State on the road was going to be a longshot, especially with Green back in the lineup after his prolonged absence. But it doesn’t help mitigate the Wolves’ road woes this season. Wednesday they will return to Sacramento — where Jimmy Butler played his final game in a Wolves uniform Nov. 9 and where their first long road trip of the season ended 0-5.
The Wolves have been a better team since trading Butler, but there’s still going to be urgency Wednesday to not let another road trip slip away, especially in a jumbled Western Conference playoff picture.
“We have to make sure we stay together,” Rose said. “Even when we’re down or up, the energy still has to stay the same no matter what.”