• Unlike the last meeting where the Wolves and Warriors were locked in a tight, low-scoring affair through halftime, the Warriors came out guns blazing tonight. They scored 38 points in the first quarter and finished with 74 at halftime.

    Running with the theme the last six games, the Wolves’ defense has been inconsistent at best, and atrocious at worst. The Wolves were consistently getting beat in transition, with 3-to-4 Warriors ahead of the pack nearly every possession.

    By halftime the Warriors had 39 fast-break points to the Wolves’ eight. It’s not the Wolves’ game to generate transition points, while the Dubs certainly do, but the 39 points was a team record for most by a team in a half since they started tracking the stat in 2002.

    The Warriors get the majority of their offense from transition, but the Wolves simply let them run all over and couldn’t give an ounce of resistance.

    They also shot 18-of-26 from 3-point range through the first three quarters, and finished the game 21-of-34, compared to the Wolves’ 6-of-20.

    Despite all that the Wolves were only outscored by four points after the first quarter. It’s cheap to bring up “moral victories” but the Wolves certainly hung in there throughout the game and didn’t allow the Warriors to empty the bench. If not for an ice-cold finish to the game the Wolves may have even had a shot to win.

    The reason was because the Wolves weren’t very impressed with the opposing defense, and Karl-Anthony Towns particularly feasted on whatever the Warriors brought at him. Towns finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. He also shot 13-of-24 from the field.

    As much as the TNT crew would like to say otherwise, the Wolves are a good offensive team. Perhaps they aren’t the most modern, and it likely can improve further, but the fact is the Wolves average the sixth most points in the NBA and hold the third best offensive rating while playing among the slowest pace in the NBA.

    The Wolves have no trouble putting up baskets. It’s always been, and will continue to be, about the defense. With Jimmy Butler out the numbers haven’t been pretty. They’re still putting up points but that’s not why they went out and acquired Butler. They got him to be the defensive stopper and leader, things they have missed the past four games.

    The Wolves don’t need to play faster, they don’t need to shoot more 3-pointers, they don’t need more offense. They need to defend, have attention to detail with the little things on that end of the floor and buy into the team defense concept.

    Can they improve the offense? Surely. They can go out and add another wing that is a deep shooting threat. He’s not going to play anymore than the last guy in the rotation if he doesn’t defend though.

    The defense can’t all be based off of one player either. There shouldn’t be an excuse for the Wolves’ poor defense because Butler is out. The team is still building towards a place where they can consistently defend at a high level no matter who steps on the court. They can look to the opposing team tonight as a clear example of a complete team buy-in on defense.

    That type of consistency wasn’t going to develop in such a short amount of time. There have already been glimpses of improvements as well. This last stretch of games though, hopefully culminating with tonight, has shown the long road still ahead.

    Overall six players finished with double-digit points for the Wolves. Jamal Crawford has been on fire since returning to the lineup. He scored 26 points tonight on 9-of-16 shooting.

    Kevin Durant finished with a triple-double, scoring 28 points with 11 assists, 10 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and six 3-pointers for the Warriors.

    Up next the Wolves return home and look to get revenge on the Brooklyn Nets.

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