Sluggish on offense and listless on defense Monday night, the Warriors still found a way to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Their 109-104 victory was as artless as it was significant. By overcoming their own mistakes, as well as overall drowsy play, the Warriors gained a game on the Spurs, who were upset by the Hornets on Charlotte.
In winning for the ninth consecutive time at Target Center, the Warriors (63-7) now lead San Antonio by four games with 12 remaining, reducing their magic number to nine to clinch the top overall seed.
Draymond Green scored 24 points to lead Warriors scorers, with Stephen Curry tossing in 19 and Klay Thompson 17. The bench tried to offset the poor offense of the starters, outscoring Minnesota reserves 36-8.
The Warriors allowed the athletic young Timberwolves, not known for their shooting, to fire in 51.7 percent of their attempts through the first three quarters. Minnesota also hung around due to the discrepancy at the foul line, as the Warriors were 15-of-24. The Timberwolves were 25-of-30.
The defending champs turned up the defense in the fourth quarter, holding Minnesota to 25 percent over the final 12 minutes. That was enough to erase the stain of an ugly third quarter, during which the Warriors committed eight turnovers.
Forward Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points to lead Minnesota (22-48), while rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns poured in 24.
Nobody played their roles better than Green and Livingston, who were factors at both ends, keeping the Warriors afloat when they were otherwise sinking.
Green’s line: 24 points (10-of-13 from the field), nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocked shots in 37 minutes. He was plus-8 for the game.
Livingston’s line: Eight points (4-of-6 shooting), four assists, three steals and two blocked shots He was plus-2 over 19 minutes.
Trailing 97-93 with 7:15 remaining, the Warriors came back with a slow-motion 8-2 run to go up 101-99 with 3:40 left.
Though the game was tight throughout, the Timberwolves never again went in front.
Warriors: C Andrew Bogut (L big toe strain) was listed as out. F Andre Iguodala (L ankle sprain), C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) and F Kevon Looney (R hip inflammation) are not with the team.
Timberwolves: F Kevin Garnett (R knee soreness) and C Nikola Pekovic (R ankle sprain) were listed as out.
The Warriors return home Wednesday night, when they play hosts to the Clippers at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:40.