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3 takeaways from Warriors’ electric win over Minnesota

© Kyle Terada | 2021 Nov 10

The game was already over, and it was already Andrew Wiggins’ night.

Then he added another one. 

Wiggins, who started the game 10-for-10 from the field, who had posterized his former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns on the baseline in the first half, soared in from the perimeter to tag Towns again with a one-handed putback slam. Hanging onto the iron with one hand, he spun around and let out a yell.

His dunk put the Warriors up 15 points, halting a Timberwolves comeback for good. 

Teammates and coaches playfully shoved Wiggins and hugged him and high-fived him after Minnesota called a timeout, having clawed back but now finally out of it. 

Anthony Edwards went off for a career-high 46 points, Minnesota shot 38.1% from 3, and Draymond Green exited in the second half with a right thigh contusion, but Wiggins (35 points on 14-for-19 shooting) and the Warriors staved off Minnesota for their sixth straight victory. 

The Warriors are now the first team to 10 wins and retain the best record in the NBA with 123-110 win.

Here are three takeaways from the victory: 

Wiggins Revenge Game 

After shootaround Wednesday, Wiggins fielded questions from reporters about his time in Minnesota, his reputation as a poor defender there, his growth since then, and what it’s like to face his former teammates. 

In a calm, guarded tone, he answered mostly in generalities. Platitudes of Golden State’s teamwork, respect for his former Timberwolves teammates, admiration for Minnesota’s young core. 

In a lull between questions, he asked if he was good to leave the podium.

Even though it’s Wiggins’ second year removed from Minnesota, it sure seemed like he had some pent-up energy on the court when the ball was tipped.  

His second field goal came from the corner off a Kevon Looney offensive rebound and kickout two minutes into the game. His eighth was a thunderous baseline slam over Karl-Anthony Towns. His ninth beat the halftime buzzer and his 10th came off a nice show-and-go. 

He didn’t miss any in between. It was like Wiggins was playing on rookie mode. In his first 19 minutes, Wiggins scored 24 points on 10-for-10 shooting from the field. 

Wiggins was the first Warrior to go 9-for-9 in a single half since Monta Ellis hit 10 straight shots in 2008. Wiggins’ first miss came with 8:13 in the third quarter. By then, the Warriors led 77-60. 

The player Golden State traded to acquire Wiggins, D’Angelo Russell, shook off a quiet first half by leading a Minnesota comeback. Early in the second half, Stephen Curry (25 points) blew by him with a hesitation and crossover. But he still nailed four 3s and scored 18 points, bringing Minnesota back into the game. 

But with four minutes left in the game, it was Wiggins who drilled a free-throw line jumper to force Chris Finch to call a timeout. It put Golden State up 109-100. His dunk a possession later kept MIN at bay and gave the forward 30 points. Another 3 and another putback later were the biggest bangs. A roaring ovation followed as Steve Kerr subbed Wiggins out in garbage time. 

Whether or not there was any vindictiveness, Wiggins let his play do the talking. 

Minnesota on the offensive boards

The Warriors conceded eight offensive rebounds in the first quarter, a troubling trend to begin the game. But GSW often turned into pests immediately after Timberwolves corralled boards. 

Despite the rebounding advantage, the Warriors’ swarming defense and active hands prevented the Timberwolves from creating second chance points. 

One play, power forward Jared Vanderbilt hauled in a missed Karl-Anthony Towns 3, but Jordan Poole quickly swiped it before he could put it back. Poole sprinted the length of the court for a swooping layup. 

The Timberwolves entered Wednesday averaging 12.8 offensive rebounds per game, second in the NBA. Towns and backup Naz Reid are forces inside, and players like Vanderbilt, Anthony Edwards and Patrick Beverley are known to fly in from all angles opportunistically. 

And at first, it looked like Minnesota could take advantage. But the Warriors dulled the impact with aggressive interior defense. 

Swiping at the ball so frequently without fouling is a skill. It seems like many of the Warriors took courses at the Andre Iguodala School for Defenders — at least against Minnesota. 

And while GSW minimized the damage on the boards in the first with active hands, it wasn’t a sustainable strategy. Russell hit a big 3 in the corner off a Towns offensive rebound. Anthony Edwards’ second-chance triple cut GSW’s lead down to seven with less than six minutes remaining. Beverley was in the right place at the right time and floated another in late.

In all, Minnesota scored 20 second-chance points on 17 offensive rebounds. The first quarter may have been the difference between a runaway Warriors win and a less fortunate outcome. 

Gary Payton II, getting UP

It’s time to throw Gary Payton II’s hat in the dunk contest ring. 

Payton II got the entire Chase Center on their feet three times in the second quarter, and he didn’t even finish one of the slams. 

The Oregon State product’s first jam came off a Curry lob on the fast break. The guard’s head rose to the level of the rim as he slammed down the pass with his left hand. 

His next dunk, although slightly quieter, was arguably more impressive. The Warriors set up in the halfcourt with an action they’ve designed to free Payton II on a back screen. Andre Iguodala delivered a perfect lob from the elbow and Payton II finished it with a reverse jam. 

Shortly after, Payton II nearly had a third slam dunk, but his tomahawk bounced off the back rim as he got hit. Fans stood as he settled at the free throw line.  

Payton II’s role expanded against the Timberwolves because Damion Lee sat out with hip soreness. His impact is a resounding testament to GSW’s depth. 

With his acrobatics, Payton II jump-started a dunk contest of a second quarter in which the Warriors outscored Minnesota by 12. Steve Kerr said energy is an aspect that separates teams in the NBA — every roster has talent — and Payton II certainly supplied it Wednesday.

 

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