What we learned as Warriors throw game away, lose to Wolves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Gary Payton II’s Warriors return ignited his teammates and all of Dub Nation. But once again, the Warriors were downed by their own sloppiness Sunday night at the Chase Center in a 99-96 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jordan Poole led the Warriors in points for the second straight game off the bench, finishing with 27. Steph Curry was held to 20 points, followed by 15 from Klay Thompson and 12 from Draymond Green. As a whole, the Warriors shot 41.5 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep.
The Timberwolves, however, outrebounded the Warriors by 12, took eight more free throws than Golden State and scored six more points off turnovers than the Dubs. All three factors played a major part in what stopped the Warriors’ three-game winning streak.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors dropping to 39-37 on the season.
The return of GP2
Even during pregame warmups, Gary Payton II received a loud ovation from the home crowd. The moment the game started, Payton went right to the stationary bike to get loose. With 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Payton was officially back on the court in a Warriors jersey.
The 30-year-old makes life easier for the Warriors on both ends of the court. He’s a disruptor defensively with his ability to guard multiple positions. Offensively, his unique skill set perfectly fits Steve Kerr’s system.
And him getting out and running down the court is something the Warriors have missed mightily this season.
Payton played 15 minutes in his first game in six-plus weeks. He scored nine points, shooting 3-of-4 from the field and made one of his two 3-point attempts, along with draining both of his free throws. Payton also had two rebounds, one assist and one block.
Payton played only 26 seconds in the first quarter. He then played seven-plus minutes in the second before sitting the entire third. Once the fourth quarter started, Payton was back on the floor, alongside Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Anthony Lamb and Draymond Green.
The first look of Payton back in a Warriors jersey was exactly what Steve Kerr warned everyone about. It’s not going to be seamless, even with a player who had such an impact on their championship last season. Payton’s success is also predicated on who he is surrounded by.
To open the second quarter, Payton was playing with Curry, Poole, Green and Jonathan Kuminga. That group quickly was a minus-6. Kerr opted to replace Kuminga with Lamb, just as he later did to start the fourth.
If you need an example of why Payton will be trusted with multiple lineups, though, here’s your proof.
After starting the fourth, Payton didn’t come out until the 4:22 mark when he was replaced by Poole. Going forward, it will be very interesting to see how many minutes Payton plays, and with whom.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
To simplify the Warriors’ loss, the game came down to who could control the ball better. The Warriors failed there.
Early in the fourth quarter, Payton blocked Towns, as seen above. The Warriors were down by two points. They then followed GP2’s swat with three straight turnovers.
The Timberwolves then led by nine points, just like that.
Two turnovers in the final minute of regulation was the difference. The Warriors turned it over twice, and Minnesota took advantage. All in all, the Warriors had 16 turnovers, which resulted in 24 points for the Timberwolves.
The game was there for the taking, and the Warriors gave it away. This is right up there with one of the most frustrating losses of the season.
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