The Golden State Warriors moved into early pole position in the Western Conference with a 125-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Oracle Arena on Wednesday.
Golden State improved to 9-3 with its fifth straight win and snapped 7-4 Minnesota's five-game winning streak in the process.
It relied on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson after it announced Kevin Durant was out with a left thigh contusion, and the Splash Brothers delivered.
Thompson scored a game-high 28 points with six three-pointers, while Curry challenged for a triple-double with 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
NBA.com/Stats noted each of Golden State's five straight wins came by more than 15 points, marking the second time that has happened in franchise history.
Warriors Pull Away Without Durant
Durant may be the reigning NBA Finals MVP, but the other members of the Warriors' core went to back-to-back Finals, won a championship and won an NBA-record 73 games in a regular season without him.
That core also faced a favorable matchup Wednesday considering the Timberwolves were 27th in the league in defensive rating coming into the contest, while the Warriors were first in offensive rating.
The mismatch on paper became a stark reality in the third quarter, as Golden State poured in a head-turning 44 points and extended a one-point halftime lead into a commanding 19-point advantage before the fourth.
Rise up, JaVale! #DubNation
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/FZtDVGrqCf
— NBA (@NBA) 9 ноября 2017 г.
Curry and Thompson spearheaded the surge, but it was an overall balanced effort for the victors. Omri Casspi scored 13 points and blocked three shots, Andre Iguodala added 11 points and Draymond Green did a little of everything with seven points, six rebounds and six assists.
Even JaVale McGee got involved with Curry dishing behind-the-back assists:
The Warriors have 13 turnovers at half but lead the Timberwolves 51-50.
This is tied for their most turnovers in a 1st half in the last 3 seasons. pic.twitter.com/QskeD6M7fZ
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) 9 ноября 2017 г.
The ball movement proved too much for Minnesota, as Golden State assisted on 37 of its 48 field goals.
The one concern was the 19 turnovers, although even that was largely business as usual for the Warriors, who entered Wednesday's action tied for 25th in the league with 16.8 turnovers per game.
ESPN Stats & Info noted Golden State made recent team history in the first half:
It is a testament to the Warriors' overwhelming talent that they could overcome the absence of Durant and sloppy stretches of play and still handle an up-and-coming Western Conference contender with relative ease.
Timberwolves Still a Step Behind Top Contenders
There is little doubt a Timberwolves franchise that was 10 games below .500 last season and hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2003-04 campaign has taken steps, but it will need to take more to keep up with the Western Conference's top contenders.
Minnesota is 7-2 in games Jimmy Butler has played this year, but those two losses came against the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs—the two teams that played in last season's Western Conference Finals and the types of opponents the Timberwolves will face if and when they reach the postseason.
That's not to say there weren't encouraging signs Wednesday, especially early.
The visitors took advantage of matchups inside against Golden State's smaller groups, as Karl-Anthony Towns posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Taj Gibson added 14 points and seven boards.
Andrew Wiggins found success driving the rim and from mid-range, but Butler's overall struggles with 11 points on just 5-of-12 shooting proved costly when the Warriors took control in the third quarter.
Even with advantages down low, trading twos for threes is a formula for disaster against the defending champions.
The Timberwolves couldn't keep up on the perimeter, countering the Warriors' 15 three-pointers with an abysmal 5-of-24 shooting clip from downtown.
Minnesota will look for more success from three-point range when it continues its three-game road trip against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Warriors will remain home and attempt to bolster their winning streak to six with a Saturday matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.