OAKLAND, United States: The Golden State Warriors’ bid to surpass Chicago’s Bulls regular season record suffered a setback on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) as they crashed to a shock overtime defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Warriors, chasing the legendary 1995-1996 Bulls team’s mark of 72 victories, slumped to a 124-117 reverse against the Timberwolves, who have the third worst record in the Western Conference.
The Warriors’ defeat means they must now win all four of their remaining games — which include two meetings with the second-ranked San Antonio Spurs — to get to 73 victories.
The Warriors (69-9) had looked to be cruising to a straightforward win after accelerating into a 17-point lead in the second half.
But Minnesota rallied superbly and a 35-point haul from Shabazz Muhammad — the best of his career — and 32 points from Andrew Wiggins inspired a fightback which left the Golden State home crowd in stunned silence.
Warriors talisman Stephen Curry struggled to find his range all night, finishing with 21 points but making only four of 14 three point attempts as Golden State tumbled to their second home defeat in the space of three games after last Friday’s loss to Boston.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, LeBron James scored 17 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged closer to locking up home advantage for the playoffs with a 109-80 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks.
James had a relatively quiet night, with his points haul matched by Kevin Love and surpassed by J.R. Smith, who finished with 21.
It was Cleveland’s fourth straight victory and left them with a record of 56-22 at the top of the Eastern Conference with four games left.
Westbrook triple joy
The only team capable of catching them at the top of the standings are the Toronto Raptors, who are 51-25 with five left to play.
In Denver, Russell Westbrook banked his 17th triple double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder thumped the Nuggets 124-102.
Westbrook weighed in with 13 points, 12 assists and 14 rebounds as he became the first player since Magic Johnson in 1988-89 to make 17 triple doubles in a season.
“It’s a great honor,” Westbrook said. “Whenever you’re mentioned in the same sentence as Magic, it’s always great. That’s something you never take for granted.”
Westbrook bagged his latest triple-double after assisting Andre Roberson’s dunk during the third quarter.
The victory saw Oklahoma City improve to 54-24 and guaranteed them the third seeding in the Western Conference.
Although the Los Angeles Clippers could reach 54 wins, the Thunder would still hold the third seed because of their superior head-to-head record this season.
The Thunder’s win came after Enes Kanter scored 18 points and 11 rebounds while Dion Waiters and Serge Ibaka scored 18 apiece.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 33 at one point, with the Nuggets barely in contention.
Gary Harris topscored for the Nuggets with 17 points. Emmanuel Mudiay and D.J. Augustin had 15 each as Denver fell to 32-47.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan however believed his side could have played better.
“We didn’t start the game all that well,” Donovan said. “Maybe the altitude had something to do with it but we started to get our legs underneath us as the game went on.”
Westbrook also saw room for improvement on his own performance.
“Turnovers in the first half were my fault,” Westbrook said. “I was throwing the ball away too much. I made a conscious effort on the second half to not turn the ball over.”