SAN FRANCISCO — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has plenty of confidence in his new-look team’s ability to defend at every position, all over the court, even with the ball in Stephen Curry’s hands and the game on the line.
Karl-Anthony Towns hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play after Kyle Anderson stole a pass by Draymond Green, and the Timberwolves held off the Golden State Warriors 99-96 on Sunday night.
“Defensively I thought we were really, really good,” Finch said. “When you play these guys it puts a lot of onus on your smalls to keep chasing, keep fighting and keep contesting.”
Jordan Poole gave Golden State the lead on a 3-pointer with 1:28 left, moments after Towns had connected from deep. Poole, who had a game-high 27 points, then secured a rebound on the other end.
The Warriors had a chance with 9.9 seconds left but Curry couldn’t corral Poole’s errant pass, then Curry missed a contested 3 from the baseline just before the final buzzer.
Towns had 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals in his second outing following a 52-game absence with a strained right calf. He returned Wednesday against Atlanta.
Green fouled Rudy Gobert with 27.7 seconds left to save a likely dunk, and Gobert missed the first of his two free throws. Green went down hard taking a charge from the 7-foot-1 Gobert earlier in the quarter.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr credited Green for continuing to put his body on the line and keep Golden State in the game.
“He took some hits. He got hit in the face three different times,” Kerr said.
The Warriors had their nine-game home winning streak snapped and missed a chance to boost their playoff positioning. A victory also would have clinched Sacramento’s first postseason berth since 2006. The Kings, coached by former Golden State top assistant Mike Brown, will try to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history Monday night at home against Minnesota.
Naz Reid hit a baseline 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining, followed by a layup. He scored 23 points off the bench to lead Minnesota, which snapped a 12-game skid on the Warriors’ home floor. Anderson contributed 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“I thought a couple possessions in those last two minutes just hurt us and they hit the big shot,” Kerr said.
Curry tied it at 61 with 5:35 left in the third, only for Minnesota to make a great play moments later: Nickeil Alexander-Walker lunged for a diving save across the half-court line to save a backcourt violation and flicked the ball to Anderson for a 40-foot 3 to beat the shot clock at the 5:07 mark.
Poole’s 3 just before the third-quarter buzzer got Golden State within 77-73 going into the fourth.
Gobert grabbed 18 rebounds to go with 10 points for the Timberwolves in their third straight victory following a three-game losing streak.
“Turnovers here and there and they piled up,” Golden State guard Gary Payton II said after making his Warriors season debut. “Down the stretch we had it right there.”
Payton made a big 3 midway through the fourth and then took a charge on the other end. He played 15 1/2 minutes in his first game since the Warriors reacquired him at the trade deadline from Portland after he helped Golden State to a championship last season as a top defender. Payton had been nursing a right adductor injury in his leg stemming from offseason core muscle surgery.
He received a rousing standing ovation when checking in for the first time with 26.1 seconds left in the first. Did it top his expectations?
“I didn’t have any. I already knew it was love,” he said. “It was a nice welcome home.”
The Warriors spoke to the NBA about determining whether the Trail Blazers withheld medical information about Payton, whose physical for Golden State brought up concerns.
Timberwolves: Minnesota outrebounded the Warriors 26-18 in the first half, 12 by Gobert, and 49-37 overall. … A replay review overturned Taurean Prince’s common foul to a Flagrant 1 with 30.4 seconds left in the first, and then he picked up his third personal just four seconds later. … Mike Conley hit four of his first five 3s to score all 12 of his points in the first quarter. … Minnesota hadn’t won on the Warriors’ home floor since a 124-117 overtime victory in April 2016, and this was just its second win in the Bay Area in the last 17 meetings.
Warriors: Klay Thompson’s five 3-pointers gave him 273, moving him closer to his career high in 3s for a season of 276 set in 2015-16. … The Warriors tied the season series 2-all. … Golden State missed matching its season-best home unbeaten run of 10 in a row at Chase Center from Oct. 23 to Dec. 3. The Warriors have won 13 of 15 overall in San Francisco.
Timberwolves: At Sacramento on Monday night to complete the road back-to-back.
Warriors: Host the Pelicans on Tuesday night seeking a fourth straight home victory in the series.