The Warriors have their first win streak of the season and are back above .500.
Yes, Golden State was playing a depleted team. The Timberwolves were missing six of their top seven players due to injury: forwards Kevin Love, point guard Ricky Rubio, center Nikola Pekovic, swingman Brandon Roy, forward Chase Budinger and guard J.J. Barea.
Yes, Golden State had a 14-point lead with 7:58 and wound up needing to eke out a victory against the aforementioned second-string squad.
But from the perspective of the bigger picture, the Warriors got some much-needed experience at winning. And they did it while winning, hanging on for a 106-98 victory at the Target Center. In the end, Golden State walked away with a win they had to have.
STEPHEN CURRY: “The final score is obviously the most important thing. We might have done ourselves a disservice tonight letting it get interesting down the stretch, letting them come back. But being able to withstand a run like that on the road, that’s a good way to win”
You’d half expect Mark Jackson to be upset that his team blew a lead to the Timberwolves’ JV squad. But what benefit is there in a blow-out road win over a bad team. The Warriors are a work in progress. They have been besieged by inexperience. In the long run, close games are better for them, even if they are a result of a little choking.
Friday, Golden State had to do all of the following:
* Make good decisions to get key buckets at crucial moments. They needed one badly and the play was for Curry, who moved to SG. He often curls off the screen, catches the ball and pivots backwards, bringing the step-back 3-pointer in play. This time, he caught the ball near the left elbow and didn’t give any ground with his pivot. He sized up his options from right where he caught it, which led to a stationary 20-footer he nailed instead of a step-back 3-pointer. His jumper ended a 9-0 Minnesota run.
Minutes later, David Lee got the ball in the post, the Warriors up 94-91 inside of three minutes left. He executed what seems to be a budding go-to move: get the ball at mid post, cross to the right and spin back left for a hook off the glass.
* Get defensive stops. The Timberwolves were held to 3-for-11 from the field over the last four minutes. Most important, when the game was really decided — between the 4:02 mark and the 1:36 mark, when a Harrison Barnes dunk all but put the game away — the Warriors got four straight stops. Before that stretch, Minnesota was 8 of 15 from the field.
* Rebound when they needed a rebound most. Minnesota’s only two offensive rebounds down the stretch came in the chaos of the final 30 seconds, long caroms off desperate 3-pointers, when the game was pretty over.
All valuable experience.
MARK JACKSON: “They made plays. They’re at home. They started making shots. … We knew they’d make a run. Some of it was mistakes by us. But give them credit. At the end of the day, I’m very happy that my guys made the plays necessary to be made to allow us to leave here with a win.”
More on Friday’s victory …