Another game, another listless effort from the road-weary Spurs. After a respectable first quarter (at least on offense), the Spurs sputtered to a 128-89 loss on 39.5% shooting (which was only that high thanks to garbage time) to a Timberwolves club that is beginning to find itself following the Jimmy Butler Saga. They were the aggressors tonight, constantly out-hustling the Spurs on both ends and shooting lights-out from three (18-41) in a dominating performance.
- The Target Center crowd was pretty sparse, reportedly due to a combination of inclement weather and an overall decrease in attendance from the Butler ordeal. A result of the relatively quiet crowd was once again, Tom Thibodeau’s deep-throated yelling dominated the TV microphones.
- In what created a line-up that only had played two possessions together prior to tonight, Derrick White replaced Dante Cunningham in the starting line-up, perhaps in an effort to infuse some offense and ball movement into a unit that has been lacking in recent games. The group was outscored 14-7 in the first 6 minutes of the game and 19-9 at the beginning of the third. Suffice it to say, it did not work out according to plan.
- The second quarter was the beginning of the end for the Spurs tonight as they couldn’t get anything to fall on offense, and the T-Pups outscored them 29-9 overall. If there was a turning point (probably not since the last three quarters were gradual torture), it came from couple of bad misses by the refs on the same play: a steal for Minnesota that was the result of a missed kicked ball, and on the ensuing break-away Jakob Poeltl was incorrectly called for defensive goal-tending on a block. The result was a 40-27 Minnesota lead that would only keep ballooning to 57-24 by halftime.
- The Spurs spent a vast majority of the second quarter settling for out-of-rhythm jump shots with little driving to the rim or ball movement, which resulted in their aforementioned 9 points on 4-21 shooting. One would hope that Pop beat it into them to drive to the rim more during halftime, but . . .
- They were hardly any more aggressive coming out of the half, with Timberwolves scoring the first six points and starting on that 19-9 run, squashing any hopes the Spurs may have had of a comeback. Along with being unable to put the ball in the hoop, they had their pockets picked all night long for 18 turnovers and 26 extra points for Minnesota.
- Similar to the Bulls game, the effort level was once again atrocious tonight, and this time the bench wasn’t there to bail them out (or least make this outcome a little more respectable). The Spurs have had a habit of playing to the level of their opponent (down or up), but they certainly didn’t do that tonight. It may not be an issue Pop is used to dealing with, but he’ll have to now.
- With this game over, the Spurs finally end a tough stretch of schedule that was feared when it first came out, featuring 8 of 10 road games in 14 days, including five-games-in-seven-nights last week. From now through December, the Spurs will play 13 of 20 games at home, so hopefully they will be able to get back on track in a still wide-open West. If not, the playoff streak might be in serious jeopardy.
For the Timberwolves fans’ perspective, visit Canis Hoopus.
The Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Friday to take on the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CT and will be broadcast on KENS 5 and ESPN.