OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors whipped their fun-loving fans into a frenzy on the eve of the playoffs Monday night.
It took an early 19-point deficit and one of their worst defensive efforts of the season to do it, but they accomplished it nonetheless.
Reserve forward Draymond Green connected on a career-best four 3-pointers, including a critical right-corner jumper with 5:16 to go, leading the Warriors to a 130-120 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves that clinched the sixth playoff spot.
The win was the 50th of the season for the Warriors, a first for the franchise since 1993-94.
Several players, including Green and leading scorer Stephen Curry, took time to celebrate it on the court with their coach, Mark Jackson.
“It’s his first 50-win season. We wanted to celebrate it with him,” Curry said of the informal gathering in front of the bench shortly after the final buzzer.
“You want to take that time to acknowledge it. He’s been through a lot this season. He has as much to do with (the 50 wins) as anyone in this locker room.”
The Warriors, who recorded a first-round playoff upset of Denver as the 6-seed a year ago, will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder in the first-round, best-of-7 series.
One Clippers loss in their final two games or a Thunder win in its regular-season finale would set up the Golden State-Los Angeles matchup.
No matter who they play, the Warriors learned earlier in the day that they will go into the series without starting center Andrew Bogut, who has been diagnosed with a broken rib suffered in last Thursday’s loss to Denver. The club’s best defensive big man likely is out for the season.
“It changes a lot,” said Green, who played 38 minutes off the bench Monday and figures to play a vital role in any playoff matchup. “We have to have guys step up. We’ve done that all year.”
Without Bogut, the Warriors offered little defensive resistance against the Timberwolves, who entered the game 40-40, needing to win their final two games to post their first winning season since 2004-05.
Instead, the Warriors rallied from an early 19-point deficit on the strength of 15 3-pointers to beat a team that put up 120 points on 53.1-percent shooting.
The win was Golden State’s first of the season in a game in which it gave up more than 115 points in regulation.
“We’re a great defensive team,” Jackson insisted afterward. “That’s with whoever’s on the floor.”
Golden State’s milestone win came despite a 40-point performance by Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.
Green’s fourth 3 on a 20-point night might have been his most important. It came after Minnesota had closed to within 111-109.
The Timberwolves eventually got back within three on a 3-pointer by Love with 2:35 to go. But the Warriors offense kept Minnesota at arm’s length, with power forward David Lee and Curry dropping in three consecutive hoops — capped by Curry’s seventh 3 — to re-open a 10-point advantage inside the final two minutes.
“They shot the ball so well from 3,” noted Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman. “Four or five guys shot it well. You knew that they were going to make a run eventually.”
Curry led the Warriors (50-31) with 32 points, more than half of which came on 7-for-13 shooting from 3-point range. He also found time for a game-high 15 assists.
Green had a second double-double for Golden State with a career-high-tying 12 rebounds to go with his career-best 20 points. Lee poured 25 points on 12-for-14 shooting, and shooting guard Klay Thompson added another 20.
The Timberwolves’ Love, who scored nine points in the first 82 seconds of the game and 22 overall in the first period, missed a triple-double by one assist, recording 14 rebounds and nine assists to complement his 40 points.
Center Gorgui Dieng added a double-double against the Bogut-less club with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Minnesota’s other three starters — small forward Corey Brewer (22), point guard Ricky Rubio (15) and shooting guard Kevin Martin (14) — also scored in double figures.
The Timberwolves still have a chance to record a .500 season with one game remaining at home Wednesday against Utah.
“We want to finish strong,” Rubio assured. “Of course in the beginning of the season we were thinking about playoffs. But finishing at .500 is going to be something positive.”
NOTES: The Warriors have won seven games this season when trailing by 15 or more points at one point. … The team’s 15 3-pointers brought the season total to 766, a franchise record. … The win was Mark Jackson’s 120th for the Warriors, moving him past George Senesky and into fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list behind Al Attles, Don Nelson and Ed Gottlieb. … When Minnesota PF Kevin Love hit three 3-pointers in the first 82 seconds of the game, he was on pace to score 316 points. … The Warriors played a majority of their first-round playoff series last season short-handed as PF David Lee tore his right hip flexor in Game 1 against Denver and played just one minute the rest of the six-game series. … Warriors backup C Festus Ezeli, who has missed the entire regular season following knee surgery, has been doing one-on-one workouts and might return at some point in the postseason.
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