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Lackluster third quarter dooms Timberwolves in national TV loss to Warriors

It’s fair to expect Minnesota to be featured more often moving forward, because as the Wolves proved Thursday — even in a 124-115 defeat — they’re fun

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives in against Golden State Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. (32) during the first quarter Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Kelley L Cox / USA Today Sports
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If you discount NBA TV — as most do — Thursday’s trip to San Francisco to face Golden State was the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lone originally scheduled national TV contest of the season. Last month, a home game against the Lakers was added to ESPN’s slate.

It’s fair to expect Minnesota to be featured more often moving forward, because as the Wolves proved Thursday — even in a 124-115 defeat — they’re fun.

Karl-Anthony Towns was dominant, Anthony Edwards put on a fourth-quarter push to make things interesting, and the 6-foot-9 Jarred Vanderbilt hounded Steph Curry at various points of the game. Much of the TNT broadcast — which featured former Wolves play-by-play voice Kevin Harlan — was dedicated to discussing the revived Wolves, with their young core and renewed commitment at the defensive end.

It felt like a Timberwolves game that mattered on a national stage. Those have been few and far between in recent years. But Minnesota has earned the attention this season by being a team that hangs around the .500 mark and entrenching itself in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture.

This was the first in a nasty slate of three consecutive games against the West’s three primary powers. Minnesota travels to Phoenix to take on the defending conference champion Suns on Friday, then hosts the Jazz on Sunday.

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For one half, the Wolves looked like the better team. Despite Golden State’s hot shooting, Minnesota led by four at the break thanks to Towns’ dominance against Golden State’s single coverage. Towns finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds.

In the third quarter, the Warriors (36-13) put their foot on the throttle. They scored 38 points on the strength of 7-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers to build a 14-point advantage. Wolves guard D’Angelo Russell left the game early in the third quarter with a shin contusion after missing a couple of shots.

For the game, Golden State went a scorching 21 for 36 from deep. Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson had 23 and just-named All-Star Andrew Wiggins scored 19.

Minnesota throttled Golden State less than two weeks ago at Target Center. But that game didn’t include Curry and, as Timberwolves coach Chris Finch noted prior to Thursday’s contest, the all-world guard’s presence creates quite the ripple effect.

Minnesota (24-24) made several mini-pushes in the fourth to threaten Golden State — Edwards scored 19 in the final frame — but could never get over the hump. Still, the Wolves entertained Thursday, as they have most nights this season.

It’s why they can expect to see themselves on similar stages more often in the near future.

“I hope people got a glimpse of this team,” TNT analyst Reggie Miller said. “Because I think they’re going to be interesting in the playoffs.”

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