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Spurs take care of business, defeat Timberwolves on the road

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Coming off of a clutch performance against Phoenix, the Spurs traveled 1247 miles up I-35 to the Target Center in Minneapolis where they thankfully went up against one of the Western Conference's least daunting opponents.

Let the Austin Daye Day jokes commence!
Let the Austin Daye Day jokes commence!
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves, 5-30 coming into the game, feature two former 1st overall draft picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, both Cleveland alums who were sacrificed as as burnt offal to summon Kevin Love to the Cavs.  Tonight, Minnesota's leading scorer would be reserve Zach LaVine, who scored 19. Wiggins and center Gorgui Dieng combined for 36, each scoring 18.

The injury report before the game was that the Spurs would be without the services of Manu (back spasms), Marco (groin), Baynes (neck), and, of course, Kawhi (hand).  Belinelli and Baynes both dressed and Baynes ended up making an appearance with just under 2 minutes left in the game.

Aside from a bit of late drama, this game ended up offering Spurs fans something they haven't experienced much recently: a relatively comfortable win.  The Spurs avoided a third straight game with a third quarter collapse, as they extended the lead from 15 to 20 over that frame.  Instead of a third quarter cold spell, we were treated to a sluggish fourth quarter offensive showing from San Antonio, in which the Spurs did not register a field goal until Austin Daye hit a short jumper with 6:53 left in the game.

The Wolves would spend the fourth quarter slowly whittling away at the lead, but never truly threatening.  A short flurry by the Wolves with two minutes left brought them closest, but Zach LeVine missed a 3 that would have cut the margin to 6, and Minnesota gave up 8 subsequent points to close the game, resulting in a 108-93 Spurs win.

Aside from flirting ever so lightly with a late-game collapse, the story of this game was Austin Daye, scoring on dunks, 3 pointers, and mid-range shots.  He dominated the 2nd quarter offensively, and ended the game with 22 points, shooting 4-8 from three point land and 4-5 from mid-range and inside.  Daye also grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the team.

Green with an alley-oop to Duncan?  My understanding of the world has been dealt another blow.

Game Notes

  • Popovich tapped Daye and Diaw start the game, constituting what I was informed was the 21st different starting linuep for the Spurs - sounds about right, but there's no way I'm taking the time to verify that.
  • Kyle Anderson say no playing time until almost 2 minutes left with the game mostly out of hand for the Wolves. Against a weak opponent featuring as many young players as Minnesota, I expected Popovich to look to get him as much playing time as possible; that did not happen.
  • Danny Green continued his on-again-off-again scoring, notching just 7 points on 2-6 shooting after scoring 20 against Phoenix.  His defense remains excellent and consistent, and, although it didn't show up on the stat sheet, he got another one of what is rapidly becoming his signature block-from-behind on a driving Andrew Wiggins.
  • Parker's movement appears to the eye to be approaching his normal, but he (like Mills just after his return) is still working on getting his shot back.  He finished the game tying Green with 7 points, but on inefficient 3-9 shooting, including a regression-to-the-mean corner three point miss that led to an odd looking Bonner one-handed-putback that surprised even him.
  • The Spur's backup point guard tandem of Corey Joseph and Patty Mills continued their solid play, with CJ going 5-8 for 12 points, and Mills shooting 7-11 to score 19.
  • Boris Diaw isn't exactly striking fear in the hearts of his opponents at the moment, and it's telling that he registered a team worst over/under of -1.  However, he still displays incredible floor understanding at times.  His finest moment tonight came during the third quarter, off a pick-and-roll he ran with Tony.  He directed TP on which direction to come off the pick, took the pass off the roll, dragged in the defense, then hit Austin Daye for a wide open three pointer.  He only got an assist for it, but that play belongs on the highlight reel for the season.  More, please, and more consistent.
  • My wife asked me if the Spurs were going to play the "second string" for the fourth quarter with the lead at 20.  I'm still unsure how to answer that.

The Spurs are off until Tuesday, where they will face the newly relevant Washington Wizards.