SHENZHEN, China – Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors gave fans in China a crowd-pleasing taste of their up-tempo, free-flowing ball movement and explosive scoring.
Jimmy Butler and the retooled Timberwolves played a more complete game, however, and moved in front for good in the fourth quarter on the way to a 111-97 preseason victory Thursday that is part of the NBA’s Global Games initiative.
“We played well for about a quarter and a half and then we started getting careless with the ball,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who suggested his team should have led by 15 at halftime, when Golden State instead led by just five, 55-50.
“We got lazy,” Kerr said.
Stephen Curry was called for five fouls in about 24 minutes on the court but still managed to score 14 points.
“Hopefully I can get rid of all the fouls in the preseason. That’s what the preseason’s for,” Curry said.
Durant was the most efficient player on the court, hitting an array of midrange jumpers as the Warriors held the lead for the first three quarters.
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau sounded pleased by his team’s progression during the game and stressed the urgency of his new lineup, featuring the addition of Butler, getting in sync before the regular season opens this month.
“The second half we played better, moved the ball better, ran better plays,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously with a shortened preseason — we’re only playing three games — we have to move things along a lot quicker.”
Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns each scored 16 points in 26 minutes apiece for the Timberwolves. Durant scored 20 points in 25 minutes to lead Golden State.
Power forward Taj Gibson is looking more with his new team after being reunited with Thibodeau, his old Chicago Bulls coach. Gibson scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while showing the ability to become more of a “stretch four” in Thibodeau’s system. He hit one of two three-point shots — not bad for a player who has attempted only 35 threes in his career and made only three last season.
The Warriors (0-2) and Timberwolves (2-0) meet again on Sunday in Shanghai, China.