There was a four-second difference between the game clock and the shot clock. The Golden State Warriors had the lead with less than 24 seconds remaining in the game. A victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves would have put the Warriors firmly 1.5 games ahead of the play-in tournament. The Warriors ended up losing and are now clinging to the sixth seed with a 0.5 game-lead on the Timberwolves after the loss. What cost them the game is a problem that they can no longer power through — turnovers.
It was Draymond Green and Jordan Poole whose miscues — this time broadcasted intentionally — put the Warriors in a bad spot in late critical moments. With under a minute remaining in the game, the Warriors were up by one after Rudy Gobert split a pair of free throws. Green had the ball at the top of the key and somehow got his chest pass deflected by Kyle Anderson. A few seconds later, Towns hit a 3-pointer and the Timberwolves took a two-point lead.
The following trip up the floor Poole had the ball with just over four seconds remaining. If the Chase Center had a financial incentive to advertise the team’s turnover problems, Poole’s face would be atop every entrance.
He had played well on Sunday, but his attempt at a game-winning play went haywire. He slipped while trying to pull up on Mike Conley, ended up panicking, and flipped an ill-advised pass toward Curry that went out of bounds. A game the Warriors let slip away, and now four of their six remaining games are against teams that currently are in the postseason.
Of course, as bad as their mistakes were, those aren’t the only reasons that the Warriors lost 99-96 to the Timberwolves. Defense is far from a strength for the 2022-23 Warriors, so if they hold a team to under 100 points they should not lose.
It was unfortunate timing for the Warriors for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to have rough shooting performances on the same night. They both shot under 35 percent from the field, and it was actually Poole’s 27 points on 50 percent from the field that helped keep the Warriors in the game.
A better shooting performance and the Warriors could have pounded the T’Wolves, but that is how jump shooting works. Some nights they don’t fall and combine that with a team that has the propensity to turn the ball over, disaster can strike during any game. The 73-win Warriors of 2015-16 committed the sixth-most turnovers per game in the NBA and was 20th in turnover percentage. This season, the Warriors rank 29th in both of those categories. How the Warriors were able to navigate blown possessions and shooting slumps by playing some of the best defense in the NBA. In 2016 they had the fifth-best defensive rating in the league, last year’s championship squad finished the regular season first in that category. A defense that strong can compensate for an offense that, turns the ball over less frequently than only the Houston Rockets
Sunday was the night that Gary Payton II made his 2023 Warriors debut. He played just over 15 minutes in his return to the court from an adductor injury, and it appears that he will be ready to assume his role from the 2022 postseason. He was excellent for them on defense last season and on night one with him on the court they held a surging team to under 100 points — albeit with Anthony Edwards playing in his first game since turning an ankle last Sunday.
One of the few times this season that a shootout wasn’t necessary to win. The game was instead a rock fight that the Warriors lost control of at the most inopportune time.