OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors suffered the inexplicable loss to a talented, albeit inexperienced, Minnesota Timberwolves team that had little, if anything, to technically play for. The Wolves did, however, have the opportunity to beat the champs on national television. They seized it, and now Golden State's 73-win chase is very much in doubt.
"Maybe we would have won 78 games with last year's injury situation," said one Warriors official, taking stock of the health situation.
Tuesday's tilt was supposed to be the game when they were finally whole again, with Andrew Bogut (rib issue) and Iguodala (ankle sprain) returning from their injuries.
It started as a reminder of a luxury that was once taken for granted. Bogut picked up two early fouls and, suddenly, Festus Ezeli was there to take his place (as opposed to, say, Anderson Varejao). Stephen Curry had an awful shooting first half (0-of-8, two points), but Golden State's offense didn't miss a beat. The Warriors were comfortable, eventually opening up a 15-point lead in the first quarter.
But ironically on a night when Golden State got all its depth back, the bench completely fell apart. Marreese Speights, who found his stroke in Ezeli's absence, was tentative in Ezeli's return, getting two travels in quick succession. It's impossible to know whether Leandro Barbosa and Brandon Rush were impacted by Iguodala's return, but the two combined for two points.
Still, few observers thought Golden State was in danger as the lead slowly whittled. The Warriors hadn't lost after taking a 15-point lead since April 10, 2014, against the Denver Nuggets. Surely it wasn't going to happen on Tuesday night.
The Wolves had other ideas.
Shabazz Muhammad blasted his way to the rim in the third quarter, then he continued to bully, finishing with 35 points on 12 shots. Karl-Anthony Towns gamely switched out onto Curry, bothering the MVP. In crunch time (both in the fourth quarter and in overtime), Towns also bedeviled Bogut with his range and quickness. Andrew Wiggins added 32 points and a patented spin move in what was an opus to the rising talent out (Mid)West.
Steph Curry was not Steph Curry, finishing 7-of-25 (21 points, 15 assists) and missing shots he normally makes -- a few of which, in overtime, were killers.
Golden State might have squandered a chance at 73 wins on Tuesday, but perhaps that's the wrong perspective when two games are suddenly dropped at home. The Warriors have been playing worse and need to get back on track -- 73 wins or otherwise.