SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — So close to a playoff spot in the clogged-up Western Conference standings, this win meant so much for coach Steve Kerr’s undermanned Golden State Warriors — for many reasons.
The defending NBA champions were down three starters once again, and old stand-by Klay Thompson and newcomer Donte DiVincenzo delivered on both ends when it mattered most.
Thompson scored 32 points, including a key 3-pointer with 2:05 to play, and the Warriors held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-104 on Sunday in a matchup of teams fighting neck-and-neck for postseason positioning.
“This is a huge win not only for the standings but for the confidence of the guys,” Kerr said. “That was a team win. Everybody came in there and competed and played well.”
DiVincenzo put Golden State ahead for good on a 3 with 3:02 left and finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He also won a jump ball in the final minute.
Naz Reid scored a career-high 30 points and added nine rebounds for Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have lost three straight and four of five.
Kevon Looney grabbed 17 rebounds and has 13 or more in six consecutive games. He finished with 12 points, and his career-best sixth game in a row with double-digit boards was much-needed for a depleted Warriors team.
“I think it has a huge impact,” Looney said. “I think last year that was one of our biggest strengths, especially in the playoffs, our rebounding.”
Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer put Minnesota ahead 87-78 going into the final 12 minutes before the Warriors rallied behind Thompson. He overcame a slow start to shine late, following up his 42-point gem Friday night in which he matched a season high with 12 3-pointers.
Thompson missed five of his first six from deep Sunday. But with injured Splash Brother Stephen Curry cheering from the bench, Thompson’s 3 with 6:11 left got Golden State within 96-92 and then he followed it with a baseline jumper under pressure.
The Warriors were missing Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins again.
DiVincenzo said the team found “heart” down the stretch.
“It’s huge for your confidence,” DiVincenzo said. “So when those big dogs come back we’re clicking in the second unit.”
Green had a setback with his troublesome right knee and is scheduled for additional tests.
“It flared up today, so he will be more thoroughly checked out today by our medical staff,” Kerr said before the game. “So it was sort of unexpected the way he came through treatment yesterday and everything was looking good, and he had to step back today.”
Golden State has won 12 straight in the series at home but shot 9 for 24 in the first quarter, 1 of 6 by Jordan Poole. The Warriors were 6 of 20 from deep in the first half but grabbed a 59-57 advantage at the break.
Retired baseball sluggers Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez — a T-Wolves owner — sat together courtside opposite Minnesota’s bench.
LOONEY ON THE GLASS
Looney has 24 games with double-digit rebounds, most for Golden State since Green had 37 in 2015-16. The last Warriors player with 13 or more rebounds in six straight games was Andris Biedrins from Dec. 28, 2008, to Jan. 7, 2009.
“We’ve just come to expect it now. He’s an elite rebounder,” Kerr said.
Timberwolves: Reid shot 12 for 22 overall and had 18 points in the first quarter on 7-for-9 shooting. … Minnesota C Rudy Gobert is sick. F Taurean Prince is out for personal reasons and G Jaylen Nowell is nursing a left knee injury. … Minnesota had won two straight on the road.
Warriors: Curry, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, missed his eighth straight game with a left leg injury after getting hurt against Dallas on Feb. 4. … Wiggins sat out a fourth consecutive game while dealing with a family matter and Kerr isn’t sure when he might return.
Timberwolves: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night to continue a four-game California trip.
Warriors: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.