Martin's clutch shot propels Timberwolves past Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. - With all eyes on Minnesota Timberwolves standout forward Kevin Love in the final seconds of a one-point game Friday night, guard Kevin Martin found an open spot on the left side of the court and waited for the All-Star to do something few expected - pass the ball.
Sure enough, Love's eighth assist and Martin's clutch 18-footer with 8.4 seconds remaining combined to send the Timberwolves to their third consecutive win, a 121-120 thriller over the Golden State Warriors.
"I'm not surprised at all," Martin said of Love's pass. "He's a very unselfish player. He makes guys around him better. He trusts his teammates. That's what makes him a special player."
The Warriors had a chance to win on their final possession, but this time a pass from the team's All-Star to an open teammate didn't produce positive results, with reserve forward Harrison Barnes misfiring on an open 21-footer just before the final buzzer after taking a feed from point guard Stephen Curry.
"I saw two guys in my way and knew somebody was open," Curry explained. "(Barnes) was wide-open. Great shot, one that we'll take, and obviously if it goes in, things are different. But it didn't and it's a tough loss for us for sure."
In snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors, the Timberwolves took possession of the ball one last time down 120-119 with 27.9 seconds left after small forward Andre Iguodala had put Golden State on top by making two free throws. Not surprisingly, the ball went to Love, who Thursday was named a starter on the Western Conference All-Star team. But when the Warriors double-teamed the big guy about 16 feet from the basket, he looked left and found Martin for the game-winner.
"They wanted the ball out of my hands," Love assessed of the Warriors' strategy. "You've got to make plays for other teammates."
The celebration was a bit subdued for Love, who had his right ankle in a bucket of ice and right knee wrapped in ice after twice having to leave the game due to injuries.
"We made that last shot," Love noted. "So hopefully that'll take some of the pain away."
Love and Martin shared scoring honors for the Timberwolves with 26 points apiece. Love also found time for 14 rebounds to go with his eight assists. Eleven of Love's 26 points came at the free throw line, where Minnesota outscored Golden State 18-13.
Center Nikola Pekovic had a 22-point, 14-rebound double-double for the Timberwolves (21-21), who headed to Portland after the game.
"It's the type of game we've been losing all year," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said of his team, which entered the game 0-11 in games decided by four points or fewer. "That's the first time all year we watched the ball bounce off the rim."
Curry had 33 points and 15 assists for the Warriors, who lost despite shooting 55.1 percent from the field. Power forward David Lee added 23 points, shooting guard Klay Thompson 18 and Iguodala 16 for Golden State (26-18), which lost its third in a row at home.
"The history of this franchise and the history of this basketball team - you are not going to get anywhere attempting to outscore people," Warriors coach Mark Jackson observed. "That's not who we are or who we are going to be. You can fall in love with your ability, but we've done a poor job defending lately."
After taking a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Warriors trailed 118-113 following a 10-footer by Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio with 1:58 to go. Iguodala then almost single-handedly delivered a win, first hitting a jumper and then, after a Rubio free throw, drilling a 3-pointer on which he was fouled.
Iguodala missed the free throw with 1:16 left that could have tied the game, but he came back to make a pair two possessions later for the 120-119 lead that Martin eventually overturned.