SAN FRANCISCO — The Minnesota Timberwolves boast the No. 1 offense in the NBA and mucked up the Warriors offense to near unwatchable levels. With no clear scorer other than Steph Curry emerging, the Warriors lost 116-110 to the Timberwolves on Sunday night.
The Warriors have now lost three straight and four of their last five games. They are 1-3 at home following a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and have a 6-5 record overall.
“We’re in a little bit of a spell right now, but it’s not like we were the world’s greatest team when we were 6-2 and we’re not the world’s worst team losing the last three,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s just this part of the season. We just played two great defensive teams that throttled us.”
Curry again led the way with 38 points, but didn’t get much help as the Warriors shot 38.5% from the field and a dismal 27.9% from 3. Minnesota, built similarly to the Cavaliers, forced the Warriors into the a half-court offense that plays against their preferred pace. Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns kept the Warriors away from the rim and Minnesota outscored them 62-38 in the paint.
“We drove into traffic too much without a plan,” Draymond Green said. “We’re forcing shots or jumping and turning the ball over. So I think we have to do a better job of spacing the floor. And if you floor space, then you can exploit their weaknesses.”
The Warriors can usually counter interior size with their shooting, but no Warrior other than Curry is pulling multiple defenders to the perimeter to create that space. That’s because typical shooting threats aren’t in a groove and everyone-not-named-Curry is shooting 81-for-261 from 3.
“No question, we need some scoring and some playmaking from elsewhere,” Kerr said.
Klay Thompson is the logical second scorer that could emerge, but is averaging 14.1 field goal attempts per game — well below his 16.2 career average. And the career 41.5% 3-point shooter is off to his traditional slow start, shooting 35.4% from 3 so far this year. He scored 16 points Sunday on 5-of-16 from the field and 3-of-10 from 3.
Andrew Wiggins is built to counter the Timberwolves in the paint and as a 3-point shooting threat, but couldn’t break out of a troubling slump against a former team he typically gets up for. He had six points and went 0-for-2 from 3, his 3-point percentage this season dropping to 15.4% as he’s averaging 10.5 points per game. Chris Paul didn’t score a field goal against Minnesota and hasn’t found his jump shot yet.
Dario Saric has arguably been the Warriors’ third best scorer — he put up 11 points and Jonathan Kuminga had 10.
“There’s always been a certain approach to guarding us,” Curry said. “For years you know where attention is going to be. Usually try to blitz me in a pick-and-roll, stay body-tight on Klay. Whatever the case is we have to make adjustments. We can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
“It’s not a panic or anything. It’s just a matter of getting a little smarter and a little bit more organized.”
For the offensive futility, Green shouldered the responsibility on himself and Paul to get the team organized and find that rhythm and flow that’s eluded them through the 6-2 start and the three-game skid alike.
“We as players have to do better,” Green said. “When we’re playing well, players get the credit. When you’re playing bad, players have to f—–g take the blame as well. We can come up here and point a bunch of fingers … at the end of the day we play basketball and it’s our job to figure it out and play better.”
All said, that offense might really flow if more shots fall and defenses have to account for more than Curry as a scoring threat. Switching up some rotations — maybe leaning into the spark rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis have given — is a potential solution,
“I like everyone that I’m playing, but if we struggle, then we’ve got to get guys out there who are going to give us a spark,” Kerr said.
Said Curry: “Everything is on the table for us for adjustments. When you’ve lost three straight, you have to make adjustments. I don’t know if it’s a rotation thing or whatever the case is, but everything is on the table and everyone has to be ready to step in.”
The Warriors play the Timberwolves again on Tuesday for the In-Season Tournament group play. Then Oklahoma City comes to town for a two-game series and the Houston Rockets visit close out this six-game home stand.