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Warriors overcome slow start to extend win streak to 13

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MINNEAPOLIS — Golden State was far from top form on Monday, but it was still enough to keep the NBA’s best team on its record-breaking roll.

Overcoming a shaky first half, the Warriors stretched their franchise-best winning streak to 13 games in a 102-86 defeat of the injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It was ugly, but at the end of the day we got a win,” said guard Klay Thompson. “We can’t sleep on anybody and we kind of did that in the first half. It was dead in there. It wasn’t the brand of basketball we want to play.”

Thompson and Stephen Curry each scored 21 points as the Warriors’ renewed second half effort propelled them to another record in their historic win streak with their eight consecutive road victory.

Beyond the team accolades, Golden State coach Steve Kerr tied Al Cervi (1949-50 Syracuse Nationals) as the only rookie head coaches in NBA history to win 18 of their first 20 games.

“I’m willing to wager I had the best players of any of those rookie coaches,” Kerr said, flashing a grin.

Minnesota, still without injured starters Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio, didn’t have the firepower to overcome the Warriors (18-2). Shaky shooting and turnovers hounded both teams in the first half, but Golden State gradually put the Timberwolves away in the final two quarters.

Rookie Andrew Wiggins’ 21 points, the second-highest scoring output of his career, couldn’t help Minnesota (4-16) avoid its sixth straight loss, ninth in the last 10 games.

While Golden State gave the struggling Timberwolves several opportunities to take control in the first half, they were unable to break from a lingering shooting funk. Along with 19 turnovers, Minnesota shot 36 percent from the floor and converted on only two of its 11 attempts from 3-point range.

“We’ve got guys that are totally playing out of character,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. “I’ve been on the young guys a lot at times, but our vets, they’re playing out of character too. We need them to play more in character and slow us down.”

The Timberwolves opened the game scoring only twice on their first 14 shots, but Golden State didn’t take full advantage. Curry paced the Warriors with eight first quarter points. Minnesota, getting a boost off the bench from Shabazz Muhammad, managed to keep pace. Golden State led 25-20 after the opening quarter.

Andrew Bogut started at center for the Warriors, but he was pulled less than three minutes into the game and did not return due to knee tendonitis.

Bogut said afterward he has been dealing with knee pain for about a week, but he was not overly concerned about the injury keeping him sidelined. The Warriors return home to face the Rockets on Wednesday night in a matchup that will pit two of the top teams in the Western Conference.

“I don’t see it being anything serious,” Bogut said, noting his knee locked up on him after his second shot of the game. “Hopefully it will be right for Wednesday. Today was just one of those days where you play the vet card.”

Warriors center Festus Ezeli, who subbed in for Bogut, went on to post seven points and eight rebounds.

Despite Minnesota’s 11 turnovers in the first half, the Warriors couldn’t break the game open as they battled with inconsistencies of their own. The Timberwolves drew within three points with less five minutes to go in the second quarter before Golden State went on an 11-3 run to eventually take a 48-39 lead into halftime.

The Warriors attributed their rocky start to a bit of fatigue in what was their seventh road matchup in nine games.

“We were a little loose,” Curry said. “I think we were focused, but our bodies didn’t catch up to what we want we wanted to do.”

Thaddeus Young scored seven straight points to bring Minnesota within six midway through the third quarter. That was as close as the Timberwolves would get, however. Golden State ripped off 13 unanswered points and led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.

Timberwolves second-year center Gorgui Dieng brought in a game-high 11 rebounds, with six coming in the first six minutes of the first quarter.

Warriors forward Draymond Green was 3-of-10 from the floor, but he ended the night with his seventh career double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Golden State has won 15 of its last 18 meetings with the Timberwolves, including six straight.

NOTES: Timberwolves G Mo Williams sat out his third consecutive game due to back spasms. … Minnesota SF Shabazz Muhammad, hindered lately by a sore right ankle, was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Monday, but he remained in the Timberwolves’ lineup against the Warriors. … Golden State C David Lee is nearing a return from a lingering hamstring injury, but he remained sidelined for his 19th game this season. … Warriors F Draymond Green, who took Lee’s spot in the starting lineup, entered Monday with his scoring average up to 13.5 points after dropping a career-high 31 points Saturday at Chicago.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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