The Spurs started this contest with a complete lack of energy. Perhaps it was a little bit expected as Minnesota was missing about half of their team and are no longer playing for a chance at the postseason. The Spurs were sloppy with the ball and after a 14-3 run from the Wolves the Spurs found themselves down 25-13 with 2:45 left to play in the first. Ginobili had a brilliant two-for-one for the second game in a row as the first quarter was coming to its conclusion, but J.J. Barea responded with a two and the Spurs trailed Minny 19-27 heading into the second.
The Spurs immediately gave up a score to start the second and then turned it over on the ensuing inbounds which resulted in another score for the Wolves. The Spurs were in a 14 point hole when Kawhi Leonard got a bucket to go and then blocked a shot on the other end that Whi took down the floor to cut the lead to 10 with about eight minutes left in the half. Of course, the Spurs then turned it over for the eighth time.
All of these turnovers were maddening. We all know how the Spurs are capable of playing, and turning the ball over nine times to five assists over the first 18 minutes of the game is horrible. The good guys played down to the level of a middling team. A middling team that was missing a bunch of players and had no business hanging with the Spurs. Danny Green was caught on camera yawning on the sideline. Things were not going well.
The Spurs did get a decent amount of open looks, but they weren't able to knock them down. Fortunately, the T-Wolves missed several gimmees of their own or this could have been even worse.
Still, the Spurs played an awful first half, turned the ball over 10 times, shot 35% from the floor (0-of-6 from deep,) and lost the rebounding battle by six. The Wolves only shot 42.6% in the first half, but they took a 20 point lead into the break after Corey Brewer hit a triple as time expired on the second quarter. 54-34, Wolves.
Here's a video of the bench right before halftime. It's not a good look.
Pop started Patty Mills in the second half, probably to see if the gunner could give the team a spark. The Wolves opened the lead to 28 just four minutes into the third, and the Spurs continued their poor level of play. Patty hit back-to-back threes, but the Wolves scored after each before the Spurs turned it over on back-to-back possessions including another one off a routine inbounds. Patty provided a small spark, but the Spurs' tinder was soaking wet and what they really needed was a blow torch and some gasoline. Or a Cornballer.
Nothing was working for the Spurs. Halfway through the period the Spurs had an easy two-on-one opportunity, but Marco and Boris had trouble connecting and it almost resulted in a turnover. During any other game it would have been a simple two points. Layups were missed, free throws were well off the mark, and this game couldn't end soon enough.
By the time the third quarter ended the Spurs were down 85-63, helped by a four-point play from Kevin Love.
The Spurs opened the fourth with a 12-6 run to cut it to 16 after Kawhi converted an and-one with 7:30 left in the game. The Spurs' reserves plus Kawhi played better ball than the team had all game which probably made the Wolves a little bit nervous as the Spurs were able to cut the lead to 14 and 15 a couple of times, but an untimely turnover from the good guys and some threes that took really friendly bounces for Minny killed what little chance the good guys had of coming back in this one.
Sure the game was frustrating and the team played as badly as they can. But it doesn't concern me. The Spurs came into this one unprepared to play an NBA game and they deserved to lose. This didn't expose some weakness in San Antonio. In the playoffs the Spurs will not be able to play down to a .500 team that is missing a bunch of key guys. It would have been nice to pick up this win and move closer to the one-seed in the West, but OKC lost it's last two and the Spurs still have a nice cushion on the top spot.
The playoffs are right around the corner, let's put this one behind us.
Your Spurs fall to 60-18 for the season. The Spurs' number for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs continues to stand at two.
- Tim Duncan played the first four minutes of the third, but with the game well out of reach he didn't see the floor again. I guess getting the veteran a little rest is a good thing; TD played just 20 minutes in the game.
- The Spurs lost the rebounding battle 52-37 and they allowed the Timberwolves to grab an absurd 16 offensive boards.
- Ricky Rubio had a great night. He finished with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting as well as dishing seven assists in his 34 minutes of playing time. He also had a game high plus/minus of +25.
- The Spurs finished the game 4-of-17 from deep. That's bad. If you take out Patty and Boris, the team was 1-of-12. That's some seriously cold shooting.
This was a quick one from Extraneous G.
On the game as a whole
The Timberwolves played great. They beat us in every facet of the game. They bascially forced us to lay and egg. We were awful. A lot of it was because of their aggressiveness. They played great D and they had great pace on offense.
On Ricky Rubio
He was great. He was great.
On Gorgui Dieng
I thought he worked hard.
On Manu Ginobili's injury
He got kneed in the back of the knee. It didn't have anything to do with the game; they kicked our [butt].
The Spurs will visit the Mavericks in Dallas on Thursday night. Dallas is still fighting for a spot in the playoffs. They're in seventh at the moment and they'll play this game tough as they certainly don't want to fall to eighth and face SA (who has owned the Mavs recently) in the first round.