With the Warriors’ 96-85 win over Minnesota Timberwolves, they improved to 8-6 for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Two games over .500 isn’t usually cause for celebration. But the Warriors have played their first eight games on the road, have gone mostly without Andrew Bogut, and lost their Sixth Man to injury. So, 8-6, they’ll take it.
MARK JACKSON: “I’m very pleased. There are going to be tough nights for us. I don’t have to be a prophet to tell you that. But this team has something about it that refuses to let go of the rope. They compete, they get after each other, they hold each other accountable, and it’s fun to coach.”
More on Saturday’s victory …
WRITER’S RANT: Harrison Barnes needs the ball more. No, not because he got that spectacular dunk. But because he is one of the Warriors’ most complete offensive players. He only took seven shots Saturday, which is tied for fifth most, and only one more than Draymond Green.
It’s time Barnes’ role in the offense increases. And not just give him the ball on the side. But the Warriors need to devise some things to take advantage of Barnes’ strengths, which are finishing and mid-range looks.
Barnes is the Warriors’ best athlete. He finishes strong when he’s near the basket. He’s a solid mid-range shooter. He runs the break pretty well. Among the healthy regulars, his 47.5 field goal percentage is second only the Carl Landry. It just seems like he’s not being maximized.
Obviously, he’s had to grow up as a player. But with the Warriors offensive struggles, the Warriors could stand to take advantage of what he has. Get him slashing. Get him back in the post. Run some two-man game with him and Curry or him and Lee. Run him off some screens curling to the middle. And don’t wait until you’ve went down the list of getting shots for Klay, Curry, Lee and Landry. Get him looks early. Make sure he’s part of the offense. He doesn’t need to be the first or second option. But he needs touches, and they should be calculated to use his finishing, his athleticism and his knack for scoring.
MVP: Carl Landry
He was his usually self Saturday. When the Warriors needed a bucket, he delivered. He finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. He was 10 of 10 from the free throw line, as he’s become the guy the Warriors go to when they need to settle things down and work for a good shot. He had 8 points in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors took over the game.
MDP: Jarrett Jack
He just hasn’t looked himself lately, and Saturday was the most recent example. He finished with 1 point on 0 of 7 shooting with four turnovers. He did have five rebounds and five assists, so he wasn’t awful. He just wasn’t the steady hand the Warriors have grown accustomed to him being.
KEY MOMENT I: With just over two minutes left in the second quarter, forward David Lee had the ball in the post. Barnes, from the perimeter, darted down the middle of the lane. He received a pass from Lee and took off, throwing down a one-hand tomahawk over Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic — who had rotated over in time to defend, but Barnes powered through his block attempt.
Barnes took a moment to stare down Pekovic. It was certainly the most impressive dunk by a Warrior since guard Monta Ellis was traded. It was perhaps the most memorable since point guard Baron Davis’ signature dunk on Andrei Kirilenko in the 2007 playoffs.
Fittingly, Kirilenko starts for the Timberwolves. Barnes said it was the best dunk of his basketball life.
LEE: “Wow. That was pretty amazing. I was happy to be part of that SportsCenter highlight by giving him the pass.”
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “Well, it’s behind Tom Chambers’ (dunk) over me. Sorry, I just went back in time for a second.” — Mark Jackson, when asked to rank Barnes’ dunk.
COACH’S CORNER: Perhaps the most critical move of the night was Jackson putting Draymond Green on All-Star Kevin Love in the second half. Green has the perfect combination of size, athleticism and smarts to bother a player like Love, who wound up taking five 3-pointers. Love finished 6 of 20 from the field for 15 points to go with 15 rebounds.
Green finished with 4 points and 6 rebounds in 17 minutes.
Perhaps it’s just a product of playing at home, and they get caught up with the emotions, but the Warriors have become very jumper heavy lately. They only had 36 points in the paint. Earlier during this stretch, Golden State was dominating points in the paint. Thompson was 8 of 17 shooting, which isn’t bad. But he was 7 of 9 from inside the arc and took 8 free throws (making 7). Which begs the question: why did he take 8 threes? It seems he should’ve kept milking what he had going, which was attacking, his pull-ups, and getting out in transition. Offensive efficiency is honed in these times, so late in the season the right decisions are made. That’s something Jackson and his staff should be teaching (not to say they’re not).
Certainly, the Warriors seem to have developed a fourth-quarter plan, which is good to see. Late, they put the ball in Curry’s hands and give him several options of screens at the top. This helps Curry gets the extra step he needs to get into the lane, where he’s looking pretty good drawing the help and dumping off.
The good part is how they get to that point where they know what they’re doing, guys are looking comfortable because it is expected and they know their options in the offense. That should pay dividends down the stretch, especially as they start developing wrinkles and options. Of course, it all might change when Bogut comes back.
KEY MOMENT II: With 9:59 left in the game, and the Warriors down 5, Green hustled down an offensive rebound and converted a layup. The next time down, Green put back Curry’s missed jumper. The Warriors were down 79-78.
The rookie’s hustle started a 12-0 Golden State run to give the Warriors control of the game. Curry capped the spurt with a 3-pointer, putting his team ahead 86-79 with 5:43 left.
After a layup by Love broke the spurt, the Warriors rattled off 7 more points, including back-to-back baskets by Lee, to put the game away.
TELLING STAT:Minnesota shot 38.4 percent from the field for the game, including 5 of 27 from 3-point range. The Timberwolves’ starters were 18 of 52 shooting.Minnesota totaled 11 points in the fourth quarter.
SERIOUSLY?: David Lee converted a circus shot with 7:24 left in the second, one worthy of the highlight of the night until Barnes stole that’s how. Lee tried to split a pair of defenders and was tripped. Hearing the whistle, he just heaved the ball over his head with one hand, not even looking. It banked in.
BEFORE YOU GO: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 18 of the Warriors’ 21 attempts from behind the arc, knocking down six. Combined, they made a third of their attempts, which isn’t bad. Of course, most of that was Curry, who knocked down half of his 10 attempts. Thompson was 1 of 8.