Warriors observations: Klay Thompson scores 13 in blowout loss to Timberwolves

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What we learned as shorthanded Warriors blown out by T-Wolves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green back in the Bay Area, the Warriors came to downtown Minneapolis knowing any chance of beating the Minnesota Timberwolves required the stand-ins to stand up.

That did not happen, and the Warriors paid the price, taking a 119-99 loss at Target Center.

While the starting lineup had its solid moments, the Warriors' bench submitted one of its worst performances of the season – on offense and defense – and was outscored 57-35.

Though the game was close throughout – there were no double-digit margin until the final second in the third quarter – the Warriors (31-12) never established momentum. That was crucial to Golden State’s undoing, most of it in the second half.

Here are three observations from the finale of Golden State’s four-game road trip:

Return of Klay, Part IV

In his fourth appearance this season, it’s apparent Klay is regaining his feel. It’s still coming, and will for another few weeks, but his individual progress looks more natural and his chemistry with new teammates is becoming better.

His shot, however, remains errant. Bumped up to a season-high 23 minutes, Thompson scored 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-8 from distance. He added four rebounds and two assists.

The poor shooting by his standards is not for lack of trying. The Warriors want and need Klay to be assertive with his shot. It’s part of the process of regaining rhythm and touch. Klay pulling up for a 3-pointer right wing is encouraged – except, perhaps, when he does it on a 1-on-4 “fast break,” as happened in the first quarter.

It’s those instances when Klay seems to forget that these are not the Warriors of old. No Kevin Durant. No Curry. No Green. No group of All-Stars that can overcome reckless moments. He’ll have to learn.

Kuminga delivers uneven performance

In the six days since Jonathan Kuminga’s last trip to Santa Cruz for another stint in the G League, he has climbed firmly into the Golden State rotation.

In the first half, he looked as if he belonged, playing active defense, scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbing three rebounds.

In the second half, particularly the third quarter, he looked a lot like a rookie – particularly on defense. He got caught napping a couple times, and on other occasion simply got lost.

Kuminga finished with 19 points (6-of-12 shooting) and seven rebounds. He finished minus-30 over a season-high 33 minutes.

Such inconsistency, even within one game, is not unusual for a rookie, even one as heralded as Kuminga. The Warriors understand that. But if JK continues to produce and develop, he can expect fewer trips to Santa Cruz.

Missing Mr. Curry

Starting at point guard in place of Curry, Jordan Poole did a reasonably decent job of supplying what normally could be expected of Curry, scoring a team-high 20 points while shooting 5-of-13 from the field, recording three assists and committing four turnovers.

What Poole did not do so well until deep in the second quarter was penetrate Minnesota’s soft interior defense.

Insofar as 7-foot center Karl-Anthony Towns is a poor defender and indifferent about protecting the paint, attacking the rim is the surest path to success against the Timberwolves. The Warriors instead took the opposite approach.

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Of their 41 field-goal attempts in the first half, 23 were 3-pointers. That might be fine if they’re falling, but the Warriors made only six of the 23.

That’s not entirely on the point guard, but Poole is such a good penetrator and shot-creator that he compromised one of his best assets. Maybe this will be a teachable moment.

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