OAKLAND, CALIF. - The Timberwolves’ 121-120 victory at Golden State on Friday night provided everything anyone could ask for, as long as one of those things wasn’t a lot of defense, at least until the very end.
Most important, it provided the Wolves’ first victory in a close game all season after Kevin Martin’s jump shot with 8.4 seconds proved to be the winner.
Harrison Barnes missed an open jumper as time expired.
“Sometimes it needs to go the other way before it can go the right way,” Wolves forward Kevin Love said. “We’re going to win games like that. We just need to grow up a little in situations like that and get a little luck on our side.”
The Wolves were 0-11 in games decided by four points or fewer until Friday.
Then they withstood a Golden State team that is steaming toward the playoffs by holding on tight at the end to open an important four-game road trip by winning the first games at Utah and Golden State.
“We’ve lost so many close games this year,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “The last part of the game, we got down, we defended them, we got some stops and executed at the other end. It’s the type of game we’ve been losing all year so it’s nice to get one on the road.”
Martin scored 26 points, including that go-ahead left wing jumper with 8.4 seconds left, with his lacerated pinkie on his right shooting hand taped, an injury sustained Tuesday in Utah that didn’t appear to hinder him much on a 10-for-17 shooting night.
“Maybe I should hurt it more,’’ Martin said. ‘‘Once you get in the game, you don’t even think about it. It might limit you a little bit, but you find ways around it. That’s what I did tonight.
“We know it’s going to start to go our way. We can’t shy away from that moment. You’re going to win some and lose some. You have to stick with your plan and know they’re going to start to go in your favor.”
That jumper gave the Wolves a 121-120 lead after Andre Iguodala’s late scoring had led the Warriors back from a 116-111 deficit with 2:47 left.
“KMart looked at me in the fourth and said this is where we grow up,” Love said.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 33 points and 15 assists while Love had 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Wolves.
The Wolves trailed 98-91 after three quarters before getting back to even midway through the fourth quarter before they used an 8-2 run that ended with a Corey Brewer three-pointer that gave them a 116-111 lead with 2:47 left.
But the Wolves once again couldn’t make things easy.
Ricky Rubio’s bad pass intended for Nikola Pekovic turned into Curry feeding Iguodala for a layup and a 116-113 deficit.
Curry found Iguodala again by whipping a cross-court pass to him for a three-pointer, and Martin also fouled him. But Iguodala missed the free throw and the chance for the four-point play but the Warriors were within 119-118 with 1:16 left.
But this time, the Wolves held on.
“That was a huge game for us and our confidence, and we did it,” Rubio said.
The Wolves survived a scare when Rubio ended up writhing on the court in pain after he took a charge from Iguodala,
Backup guard Alexey Shved also played on after getting injured at Utah. He wore a protective plastic mask over a broken nose suffered that game but played 15 minutes with it anyway. He said before the game he’ll wear the mask for the next three weeks.