The Minnesota Timberwolves will be looking to end a losing skid while the Golden State Warriors seek to create a winning streak when the clubs tangle Monday night in San Francisco.
The matchup of two of the league’s more disappointing teams is a rematch of an earlier thriller in which the Warriors’ D’Angelo Russell outdueled the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins 52-40 in points, but Minnesota nonetheless prevailed 125-119 in overtime.
That win gave the Timberwolves a 5-3 record. They have gone just 5-15 since, losing their last 10 in a row.
The most recent three setbacks have come without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who suffered a knee injury on Dec. 13 at Utah.
“(We miss) his ability to stretch the defense, being a focal point of the offense and probably the main person on the other team’s scouting report,” Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague told reporters after Saturday’s 113-106 loss at Portland. “(He) takes a lot of pressure off all of us.”
Towns played a key role in the earlier win over Golden State with 20 points and 14 rebounds, giving Wiggins the type of supporting cast that Russell did not get from his teammates.
Gorgui Dieng has filled in admirably for Towns, scoring in double figures in all three starts last week while averaging 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Russell was again the driving force in the Warriors’ 106-102 home win over New Orleans on Friday night. He capped a 25-point effort with three late hoops, including a 3-pointer that forged a 98-all tie with 1:22 to go and a tie-breaking 22-footer with 32 seconds left.
“It’s hard to win in this league,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who remains the winningest active coach in the NBA by percentage. “It was really good to see us close the game down the stretch, D-Lo (Russell) made huge shots.
“That’s who he is. It’s what he did last year in Brooklyn when he really kind of broke through in the league. He’s built in that way to close out a game because he’s not afraid to miss. That’s kind of what it takes to be able to hit big shots. You can’t worry about missing, and D-Lo is never worried about that. He just goes out and plays.”
The win was just the Warriors’ sixth of the season. The game following their previous five wins has not gone well.
In fact, Golden State followed its first five wins with three-, seven-, three-, four- and five-game losing streaks.
The earlier Wiggins-Russell duel was the product of a high-volume shooting night. Russell took a career-high 37 shots, making 19. Wiggins launched a career-high 33, hitting 17.
Each guy took a shot in the final five seconds of regulation, and because of it, the game was extended an extra five minutes.
Wiggins made his, a layup, to produce a 110-all tie with five seconds left, before Russell misfired on a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Wiggins reached 40 points with two hoops and a free throw in the overtime session.
Meanwhile, Russell kept the Warriors in it with two 3-pointers in the added time, but also missed a pair.
He finished 7-for-17 on threes.
–Field Level Media