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 2½ 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.
“Whether we get the one seed or not, it’s about us just playing better, finding a rhythm down the stretch of the season,” Curry said. “And there’s enough games for us to do that.”
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. 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.”
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.
In wins over the Clippers and Warriors this week, Rubio has outplayed Chris Paul and Curry. He is playing the best basketball of his career after his name surfaced in trade discussions with New York at the deadline.
“I like his aggressiveness,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s putting pressure on the rim, he’s pushing it up the floor. … He knows how to read defenses.”
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.
Warriors: Golden State travels to San Antonio on Saturday for a showdown with the No. 2 seed in the West.
Timberwolves: Minnesota takes a short trip to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks on Saturday.
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