The Warriors have only themselves to blame for the umpteenth time this season.
Golden State’s 119-114 loss in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday at the Target Center was another of the Warriors’ masterclasses in self-sabotage.
Leading 96-82 and 11-12 in the fourth quarter, Golden State’s late regulatory collapse was the starter of what ended up being an error-riddled feast for Minnesota.
If the Warriors’ frustrating collapse wasn’t already an ominous sign that troubles were ongoing, coach Steve Kerr was the only one to speak out after the game. It remains to be seen why the players were unavailable to the media, but speculation suggests a possible team meeting has been called.
Although Kerr was the sole speaker, his comments carried the weight of the entire team.
“I thought we were in control of the game and then I thought we just gift wrapped it,” Kerr told reporters after the game. “And not to take anything away from Minnesota, I thought they were great. They took advantage of our mistakes and lack of execution. [D’Angelo Russell] got hot and the guys made big shots but we missed box-outs, we threw the ball away, we made really difficult shots.
“So we gave up everything we had done up to that point to control the game. We got what we deserved.”
Of the Warriors’ 25 losses this season, eight have been decided by five points or fewer. In overtime, Golden State is 1-3 and would be winless without a razor-thin 143-141 win in double overtime against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 2.
For a team that has blown countless leads in the fourth quarter this season, Wednesday night felt all too familiar for the Warriors. Kerr’s reasoning as to why this keeps happening is simple.
“Execution. I know it’s just a catchphrase, whatever you want to call it, but it’s the truth, you have to carry it out,” Kerr explained. “These are the best players in the world, even when their boys are out. If you want to give a team some possessions, then they have guys who will benefit from it. D-Lo hits like three 3s after we throw the ball away a few times and the whole game changes.
“If you want to win, especially away from home, you have to execute and we’ve probably lost five, six games like this away from home this year because of a lack of execution. We’re not good enough to win without execution, maybe we were a few years ago. We’re not good enough now to win away without a performance in the fourth quarter. We’re trying to fix that, we’re trying to work on it and we have to do better.”
The Warriors got sloppy towards the end of the fourth quarter and during overtime. In the last five minutes of regulation plus the five-minute overtime, the Warriors committed seven costly turnovers. Sloppy play is often a symptom of a bigger problem in the game, but on Wednesday night the Warriors couldn’t blame exhaustion for their meltdown.
“The game went into overtime. Steph and Klay got 42 and 40 minutes, so you take away the overtime and they’re right in their normal range,” Kerr said. “We had yesterday off so I didn’t think fatigue was a factor. We just weren’t sharp mentally. We gave away a bunch of possessions.”
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After three straight wins, the Warriors seemed to turn a corner and began their sprint to become one of the top seeds in the Western Conference.
Unfortunately for Golden State, there was a brick wall just around that corner.
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