MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mark Jackson's Golden State Warriors have started flexing their muscles and picking up steam after being pushed around in a loss to Denver last weekend.
Rick Adelman's "magnificent nine" Minnesota Timberwolves have finally started to wear down after a spirited start to the season and desperately need the break they have coming up.
David Lee had 18 points and 13 rebounds and the Warriors dominated inside during a 106-98 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday night.
Carl Landry added 15 points and seven boards and Stephen Curry had 17 points and six assists for the Warriors (5-4), who outscored Minnesota 58-22 in the paint.
After the Nuggets owned them inside in a double-overtime win on Saturday, the Warriors have responded with two decisive performances in the paint in wins over the Hawks and Wolves.
"We talked about it losing to Denver a couple of games ago because they outrebounded us and they dominated us," Jackson said. "So we made the adjustments and fortunately the last two games we've been doing a good job of securing the basketball, closing out defensive possessions."
Alexey Shved had 22 points and seven assists and Derrick Williams had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves (5-4), who are starting to succumb to the injuries that have ravaged them early this season. Now they have four much-needed days off to try to recuperate.
"We're running out of gas a little bit," said Andrei Kirilenko, who had 18 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
The Wolves have been playing with just nine players for the last three games. Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle), J.J. Barea (sprained left foot) and Brandon Roy (sore right knee) are out for the short term. Kevin Love (right hand) and Ricky Rubio (left knee) aren't expected to make their season debuts until December and Chase Budinger (left knee) is out for three to four months.
Harrison Barnes had 18 points and nine rebounds and the Warriors outrebounded Minnesota 50-34. Golden State led 90-76 with eight minutes to play, but the scrappy Wolves clawed back in it, just as they've done all season.
Shved's runner cut it to 92-89 with four minutes to go, but the short-handed Wolves just didn't have enough in the tank to finish it off.
Lee hit a short jumper and Charles Jenkins and Barnes both scored on easy drives to close it out. It was a nice win for the Warriors to start a tough three-game road trip that includes games at Oklahoma City and Dallas.
Without Pekovic out there to clog the paint, the Warriors attacked the rim relentlessly and pounded the Wolves on the glass. During one possession in the third quarter, the Warriors had three offensive rebounds before Barnes converted a tough layup for a 67-60 lead. And they just kept coming.
Lee with a dunk, Klay Thompson with an easy layup off a screen, Jarrett Jack with a pull-up jumper just outside the lane. Suddenly it was 80-64 and the Warriors were rolling against a Timberwolves team that entered the game leading the NBA in scoring defense.
"We've got to be a grinding ballclub," Jack said. "It's not always going to be a shirt and tie. ... We've got to be a team that's going to be able to grit our teeth."
With six of his top seven players out, Adelman has been forced to elevate the minutes of role players, and it's starting to take its toll.
"We're playing with guys that are support players around our team and they're playing big minutes," Adelman said. "We didn't react the way we needed to."
Desperate for healthy bodies, the Wolves signed Josh Howard on Thursday.
He grabbed a rebound and knocked down a baseline jumper in his first 27 seconds on the court, then added a steal and another long two in a six-minute stint. It was exactly what Adelman was looking for, some competent wing play to allow a little bit of rest for Kirilenko, who played 88 minutes the previous two games.
Howard cooled off considerably in the second half, finishing with six points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The Wolves will get no sympathy from Golden State, which is missing center Andrew Bogut and swingman Brandon Rush.
"Nobody's going to take any pity on you, any mercy on you because you're not at full strength," Jack said.
NOTES: During a video in the first quarter, Kirilenko told the story of how he got the nickname AK47. He said he originally had No. 13 when he came to the Jazz, but gave it up to Jackson, who now coaches the Warriors. Jazz teammate and former University of Minnesota star Quincy Lewis told Kirilenko about the gun, so Kirilenko chose the No. 47 and the nickname was born. ... Former Wolves, Pistons and Wizards coach Flip Saunders watched a game from the seats at Target Center for the first time since he was fired by Minnesota in 2005. ... The Warriors improved to 4-0 when Jack, who scored 13 points, reaches double figures.