Andrew Wiggins comes up big to lift Wolves over Warriors, 103-102

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Stephen Curry got free for a clean look, and a record crowd at Target Center held its collective breath when he let it fly. Like it has so often during a remarkable slump for the game’s best shooter, the ball clanked off the rim again.

Like they have so often during a late-season surge toward playoff contention, the Minnesota Timberwolves walked off the court winners again.

Andrew Wiggins scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead free throws with 12.8 seconds left to lift the Timberwolves to a 103-102 victory over the scuffling Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Ricky Rubio had 17 points and 13 assists, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 23 points to give the Timberwolves their sixth win in eight games as they try to chase down the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race. They trail Denver by 2 1/2 games.

“We are learning and getting experience,” Rubio said. “These games are meaning a lot. We are going after it.”

Klay Thompson scored 30 points for Golden State, but Curry’s struggles continued in the Warriors’ second straight loss and fourth in six games without injured star Kevin Durant. Curry scored 26 points, but was just 10 for 27 from the field and 1 for 8 from 3-point range. And he missed an 18-footer in the closing seconds that would have won the game.

Wiggins missed a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left that would have given the Wolves a three-point lead. After Curry hit a floater for a 102-101 Golden State lead, Wiggins responded by calmly knocking down two in a row.

“I missed two but I made the two most important ones of the night,” Wiggins said.

Before a two-game skid against Washington and Chicago last week, the Warriors had gone a league-record 146 straight regular-season games without consecutive losses. Their next streak lasted just two.

In his last 13 games, Curry was shooting 29.7 percent from 3-point range and he missed his first four from long range on Friday night. Three of them were wide open, catch-and-shoot looks that didn’t go down and the other was one of his patented crossover-stepbacks that glanced off the rim.

His first 3 of the night splashed through with 7:59 to go in the third quarter, but missed his next two to keep the floodgates closed. The Warriors were down 14 to start the fourth, but Curry scored nine points in the final four minutes before missing his last shot.

“You take that shot that Steph got any day of the week,” Thompson said. “It went in and out.”

TIP-INS

Warriors: Curry needed 14 points to surpass his father, Dell, in career scoring. Dell Curry scored 12,670 points in his career. … G Shaun Livingston was given the night off to rest. … The Warriors gave up 34 points in the first quarter, the fourth time in the last seven games they’ve allowed at least 30 in the opening frame.

Timberwolves: G Brandon Rush returned to the starting lineup after sitting out on Wednesday because of an illness. … The attendance of 20,412 set a Target Center record. … Towns had just four points on 2-for-8 shooting in the second half.

WEARY WARRIORS

The Warriors are at the tail end of a stretch of eight games in eight different cities in 13 days. Coach Steve Kerr said after the game he planned to rest Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala against the Spurs on Saturday night.

FALSE START

The teams had to be called back onto the court after the players had reached the locker room for the halftime break after a timing problem. The players thought the half had ended on a goaltending violation by Shabazz Muhammad, but replays showed there was still 0.6 seconds left on the clock. Referee Kenny Mauer called everyone back to finish the half, so the players trudged back on to the court to inbound the ball.

Rubio fired up a three-quarter court heave and then everyone went back to the locker room again.

 

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?