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Warriors use 44-point third quarter to race past Timberwolves in fifth straight win


OAKLAND–The Minnesota Timberwolves had won five straight games and the Golden State Warriors were without Kevin Durant.

So what.

There’s not much that can stop the Warriors these days, on Wednesday night, the Timberwolves weren’t ready to provide a red light. Up against a top Western Conference foe and down an MVP, Golden State used a 44-26 third quarter to race to a 125-101 blowout, their fifth consecutive double digit win.

After entering halftime leading just 51-50, the Warriors’ starting five, featuring Andre Iguodala in place of Durant, managed to extend its lead to just four points midway through the third quarter. In the final six minutes, though, a 25-10 run featuring a pair of JaVale McGee dunks and a handful of savvy plays from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson helped the Warriors open up an advantage Minnesota had no chance of overcoming.

The Warriors’ 44 third quarter points were their most in a quarter this season, and the breakout was due in large part to an aggressive Iguodala helped offset the loss of Durant, who sat out Wednesday’s win with a thigh contusion.

While Minnesota kept the game within reach during the first half of the quarter, the Warriors’ transition offense left the Timberwolves gassed. Golden State was so effective on the defensive side of the floor that McGee barely had to run back, slipping behind Minnesota’s defense on two separate occasions for wide open dunk attempts.

The Warriors’ big man wasn’t the only player adding clips to his highlight reelĀ the Timberwolves, as Curry lofted a ridiculous lay up high off the backboard that served as a prime example of what makes Golden State’s star so hard to guard. To make Curry’s play more ridiculous, it came immediately after he stole the ball on the defensive side and tossed it off of a Minnesota player to secure possession.

Minnesota felt the need to shut down Curry at all costs, so when the Warriors began running the Timberwolves off the floor in the third quarter, a Curry-Thompson fastbreak provided the Warriors with even more ammunition. With Thompson running the floor, a Minnesota defender was left to decide who to guard, and after choosing Curry, Thompson knocked down a 27-footer to give Golden State a 79-66 lead.

After the Warriors secured a massive lead, head coach Steve Kerr allowed his reserves to battle for opportunities, and early in the fourth quarter, second-year guard Patrick McCaw made a statement with a one-handed slam following a footrace up the floor.

Though the Timberwolves entered Wednesday night as one of the few teams capable of slowing down the Warriors, Golden State was able to overcome a big-three featuring Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler without one of its best two-way players.

After a 1-2 start to the regular season, Golden State has now won eight of its last nine, and five in a row to lay claim to first place in the Western Conference.

The Warriors return to action on Saturday night at Oracle Arena, as Kerr’s squad hosts the 76ers at 5:30.

 

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