OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Reggie Williams finally listened to his Golden State teammates’ plea for him to be more aggressive.
With Stephen Curry sitting out a third straight game with an ankle injury, Williams started off slow but came on strong at the end, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the second half to help the Warriors snap a seven-game losing streak with a 108-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
A late-season addition from the NBA’s Development League in 2009, Williams missed four of his first five shots before going 7 of 8 and making all four of his 3-pointers after halftime.
“Sometimes you have to stay on him because with Monta (Ellis), Steph, me and David (Lee), he probably thinks sometimes he doesn’t have to be aggressive,” said Dorel Wright, who had 12 points and five rebounds. “But he’s starting to understand we need him. We need those 15 points or whatever he can give us. He’s a shooter, that’s what he does.”
Ellis scored 34 points while David Lee had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors (9-16), who won for only the third time in their last 17 games.
Darko Milicic had a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota (6-19), which shot well in the first half but struggled down the stretch, missing 15 of 22 shots from the floor.
“Our team needs to learn that if they don’t play hard every night, we are not going to win,” Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “Particularly in the second half, we did not give a maximum effort. We gave them too many second chance opportunities and turned the ball over too many times.”
Curry was on the bench and in street clothes for the third straight game after rolling his right ankle in a 111-94 loss to San Antonio on Dec. 8.
Williams, who scored a career-high 31 in the loss to the Spurs, picked up the slack.
He scored 10 points in the third quarter then added 12 in the fourth when the Warriors broke open a tight game and pulled away. It marked just the second time this season that Williams broke the 20-point barrier.
“Right now my job is just to try to step up and fill (Curry’s) void and try to take care of business until he comes back,” said Williams, who is averaging 22.5 points in his past four games. “Those guys encourage me to shoot. I just have to take it upon myself to be more aggressive when they ask me to.”
Minnesota, which led by as much as 11 in the first half, was at 94-88 with five minutes left before a 9-2 run by Golden State sealed the win. Ellis had six points and Williams added three during the spurt, including a soaring one-handed dunk.
Ellis played all 48 minutes and went 13 of 24 while adding six assists for the Warriors, who have won five straight against the Timberwolves. Golden State also beat Minnesota earlier this year 104-94 on Nov. 27.
Kevin Love had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Minnesota. That snapped his stretch of 10 consecutive games with 15 or more rebounds, which was the longest streak in the NBA since Ben Wallace’s 14-game run in 2003.
Michael Beasley added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Martell Webster had 17 points off the bench.
Minnesota led 17-15 early then went on an 8-0 run to close out the first quarter. Beasley and Milicic had eight points apiece for the Timberwolves, who held the Warriors without a basket over the final 5 1/2 minutes.
Webster, playing in his first game of the season after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on Oct. 25 for recurring back pain, had seven points and Jonny Flynn, also making his season debut, added a 3-pointer as Minnesota pushed its lead to 45-34.
Wright, in a minor shooting slump, broke out of it quickly with 10 straight points as part of a 12-0 run to help the Warriors get close. After Wright’s 3-pointer tied the game with 51 seconds left, Ellis hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Golden State a 54-51 halftime lead.
Notes: Ellis was hit with a technical foul after arguing a double-dribble call by Joey Crawford with 3:45 left in the first quarter. It’s Ellis’ second technical in two games and third overall. … Flynn missed the first 24 games after undergoing surgery on his left hip July 27. He recently completed a two-game stint in the Developmental League before being recalled by Minnesota on Sunday. Flynn finished with three points and four assists. … Curry said he is hopeful of playing on Saturday when the Warriors travel to Portland.
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