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San Antonio at Minnesota, Final Score: Spurs fall short of toppling the Timberwolves, 88-96

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The Silver and Black run out of gas on the road in the SEGABABA

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

San Antonio dropped a low-scoring affair in the second leg of a back-to-back mini-series with the short-handed Timberwolves, 88-96, as Minnesota stopped the Spurs’ three-game winning streak.

Lonnie Walker IV paced the Silver and Black with a team-high 25 points while adding three rebounds and four assists. Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell combined for 51 points and couldn’t miss from deep.

Observations

  • The Spurs owned the worst three-point defense in the league from a percentage perspective coming into the outing, giving up an average of 13.2 long-range makes per game at a 41.5% clip. Although Minnesota torched San Antonio for a season-high 15 triples a night ago, they couldn’t recapture their shooting touch, draining just 9 of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc. Although it didn’t make much of a difference in the end, their progress will probably be good enough to move Popovich and company out of the bottom spot in that category, and that’s a small moral victory.
  • There’s something special about those city edition jerseys that makes watching the Spurs a joy regardless of the results. Unfortunately, the results haven’t been stellar as San Antonio fell to 2-2 when trading their traditional Silver and Black threads for their fiesta-inspired colorway. Regardless, maybe our favorite Texas-based team should consider mixing this gem into their uniform rotation more often if only to bring me momentary elation
  • Bill Land and Sean Elliott mentioned the 2020-2021 Spurs would hold the all-time assist-to-turnover ratio record if the season ended today during the last Fox Sports Southwest broadcast. And San Antonio couldn’t continue taking care of the ball at a historic rate without DeMar leading the charge. All in all, it wasn’t the worst showing as the good guys coughed up the rock ten times and dished out 21 assists. It’s too early to call, but this squad might be postseason-bound if they can start playing defense as well as they spread the wealth. Especially if DeRozan doesn’t miss too many contests down the road.
  • After a poor performance from beyond the arc, San Antonio is now 0-4 when they shoot less than 40% from long-distance and 5-1 when they meet that mark. Some fans worried the Spurs might struggle to replace the perimeter production of Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes. However, they have mostly put that concern to rest early this season as they lead the NBA in three-point percentage on a higher volume from that range than a year ago. This dud might knock them down a few notches, though spacing should improve with DeRozan driving and kicking to open shooters.
  • Patty Mills moved up to 91st place in three-pointers made in NBA history, passing Terrence Ross and Dana Barros in the process. As fearless as the Australian sharpshooter was, he only nailed three of his 13 long-range tries in perhaps his first off-night from the field.
  • Keldon Johnson doesn’t just graze the rim when he dunks the ball. He punishes it. The bruising wing barrelled down the lane for an explosive two-handed slam in the second quarter. And he would’ve stuffed home another rim-rattler on a breakaway if not for a hard foul from Naz Reid. The second-year pro didn’t make much noise in the scoring department, but he chipped in seven rebounds and three blocks in the loss.
  • D’Angelo Russell was a man on a mission and came out white-hot, hitting two three-pointers to open the game. The former All-Star quickly cooled off as San Antonio keyed in stopping him after the first quarter. Lamentably, Russell caught fire again in the second half, leading the Timberwolves past the finish line. The microwave scorer is a smooth operator, and while this loss stings, it’s difficult not to admit how entertaining he is on the hardwood.
  • Lonnie Walker IV was aggressive attacking the rim, getting to the line four times in the first quarter alone, including accumulating two and-one opportunities. The third-year guard failed to finish around the basket with any consistency in his first couple of seasons, so this sort of performance was a welcome surprise, and hopefully, the new norm. The Miami alumnus set a new season-high in the second quarter and ended the evening with 25 points. The flashes of elite open-court burst and immense scoring potential were encouraging, though his apparent late-game hamstring injury put a dampener on an otherwise outstanding individual effort.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 20 points and came within 5 points of overtaking Hall of Famer John Stock to take sole possession of 47th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. The seven-time All-Star is now 293 points away from becoming the 47th player to reach 20,000 points in league history. If he maintains his current per-game scoring average (15.4 PPG), he should theoretically hit that landmark when the Timberwolves travel to San Antonio on February 3.
  • Malik Beasley went off for 29 points on the Spurs in the first game of the mid-season mini-series, and he kept on rolling on the second night of a back-to-back, pouring in an additional 24 points. The sweet-shooting two-guard didn’t do as much damage from beyond the arc in the SEGABABA, yet he still found a way to make life difficult for San Antonio.
  • It might be 2021, but the final score of 88-96 looked more like a result directly from the mid-2000s. It was a sorry shooting night from both organizations, and they fell well short of their season scoring averages. San Antonio’s offense sputtered to a standstill without DeMar DeRozan, and their 88 points were the eighth-lowest single-game total in the NBA this year.
  • The Silver and Black converted a league-low 55% of their shots around the rim through nine games, and they once again had trouble scoring on the interior. San Antonio made a pedestrian 56.7% of their 30 looks in the restricted area, and that was without Karl-Anthony Towns to deter them from attacking the basket. Hopefully, the Spurs can build a little confidence in their Tuesday night road trip finale versus the Thunder because this wasn’t a particularly promising display.

For the Timberwolves fan’s perspective, visit Canis Hoopus.

The San Antonio Spurs will be back at it again on Tuesday night as they head to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on the final stop of their five-game road trip.