Brandin Podziemski

Outmanned Warriors unveil new attitude in loss to Timberwolves

NBC Universal, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO – After losing Stephen Curry six hours before tipoff Tuesday night and losing Draymond Green and Klay Thompson two minutes after tipoff, the Warriors found something they must have to find joy this season.

Once the saltiness was rinsed away, Golden State’s grit came to the surface and reached levels not seen in the previous 11 games.

It wasn’t enough to overcome the Minnesota Timberwolves, who came back for a 104-101 victory in the In-Season Tournament game at Chase Center, but it was a revelation of what is possible for these Warriors when passion meets pride.

“In order to win in the NBA, obviously you have to have talent,” coach Steve Kerr said. “But you have to have energy. You have to bring something to the table, life-wise, joy-wise, energy-wise, competitiveness-wise.

“And that’s what I watched tonight from whole group.”

It certainly was a more effervescent bunch of Warriors than has been visible most of the season. The Warriors have, aside from Curry, been mostly abysmal on offense. The defense has offered different shades of mediocrity. The Warriors were owned by the Timberwolves at Chase Center on Sunday with Steph and here came the rematch at Chase without him.

If not daunting enough, Thompson and Green were ejected, along with Minnesota forward Jaden McDaniels, within the first two minutes – before either team had scored. Thompson got tangled with McDaniels, and Green pulled Rudy Gobert away from Klay with a chokehold. This was the first time since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 that three starters were tossed from a scoreless game.

With their entire four-ring core unavailable, the Warriors were doomed.

Except these now prohibitive underdogs declined to accept such fate.

What followed the ejections, which came with 10:17 left in the first quarter, was the Warriors displaying such a high degree of guts and gumption that it endeared them to the packed arena. Two ties and five lead changes inside the final five minutes had the crowd on its feet.

“It was just an amazing performance by our guys,” Kerr said. “To be so shorthanded and to fight and compete the way they did. It was just beautiful to watch.”

Andrew Wiggins, slumbering through the first three weeks of the season, didn’t shoot well but exhibited signs of renewed spirit, even barking at an official. Chris Paul and Dario Sarić handled their assignments – provide stability with zany rotations necessitated by the circumstances – with the relative aplomb of the veterans they are.

And rookie Brandin Podziemski came off the bench to deliver the kind of star performance that will explode membership of fan club and reaffirm the “cocky” description offered by Curry and Kerr.

Podziemski, whose demeanor fits the profile of a leader of the Grit Gang, scored a team-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, adding seven rebounds and five assists to finish a team-best plus-11. He played a team-high 39 minutes because Kerr couldn’t justify taking him off the floor.

“I knew I was going to get minutes tonight,” he said. “I just didn’t know it would be 39.”

Golden State was outshot (44.4 percent to 41.6) but won the rebounding battle (46-42) and stayed close, 36-34, in paint points – one of their most visible weaknesses this season.

It was enough to build a 12-point lead late in the third quarter before the Warriors were outscored 28-18 in the fourth quarter.

“We played well,” Paul said. “We played hard. It just wasn’t enough.”

The roster will be diminished in the days to come. Curry is out indefinitely with a likely knee strain. Green can expect a suspension. Only Thompson should be back Thursday, in time to face the incoming Oklahoma City Thunder.

He’ll be joining a group looking to bring the heat.

This was, all things considered, the kind of comprehensive performance that will give Kerr much to contemplate. And it’s a fine script for the Warriors over the final 70 games, should they choose to follow it.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us