San Antonio weathered a hot start spearheaded by All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and sweltering Wolves shooting, and despite great execution down the stretch, the teams treated the viewers to extra overtime basketball. The Spurs were able to pair just enough stops on the Wolves’ stars while getting clutch shooting from DeMar DeRozan, Keldon Johnson, and Patty Mills to hold off Minnesota. The loss nudged Minnesota further into the Western Conference basement. The Spurs moved their road record to 4-1 this season and 3-0 on this road trip.
Towns (25 points and 13 rebounds) and Malik Beasley (29 points and 4 rebounds) lead the way for the Timberwolves. San Antonio was led by season-high scoring efforts by DeMar DeRozan (38 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) and Dejounte Murray (22 points and 14 rebounds — also a season-high). The teams continue their brief two game series tomorrow night and we can only hope that we get a similar type of effort and outcome.
- Would the lime green on the Wolves jerseys make for a good Fiesta color?
- Coming into the game, LaMarcus Aldridge ranked 65th league-wide in post-up touches: early proof that he is occupying more space away from the paint than ever.
- Lonnie Walker IV seemed to heed well-timed suggestions for improvement. He finished a first half drive on the baseline drive worthy of predecessor Sean Elliott with a lefty lay-in.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Thanks to some awkward halfcourt execution, Johnson fearlessly took the team’s first three(!) shots from behind the arc (twice late in the clock) making two of them. On one of Johnson’s patented driving layups, the Wolves bench adamantly yelled to Juancho Hernangomez “no foul!” On a late first half drive, Johnson dragged three Wolves to the rim with him to get even more free throws.
- DeMar DeRozan’s footwork is something to behold. During the second period, DeRozan played Jake Layman on a string while drawing a foul and free throws. He followed that up with a nifty eurostep layup - through significant contact with no call from the referees. If DeRozan drew even 70% of the amount of fouls and free throws that his mentor Kobe Bryant earned....
- Sequence of the Night: Midway through the third, Murray drew several Wolves to him in transition and found a streaking DeRozan for a soaring dunk.
- Devin’s Deeds: Early in the fourth quarter, Vassell corralled a wayward Mills miss amidst a thicket of Wolves and quickly found Patty for an open three.
- While other NBA teams have placed title banners behind their baskets, Minnesota has... four luxury cars.
- Wolves analyst Jim Petersen lauded Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon as the toughest opponent that he had to prepare for as a former coach with the Lynx. Petersen later likened Pop to “Gandalf the Wizard.”
- Wolves rookie Anthony Edwards looks like he hasn’t figured out live game speed just yet - clanking three bricks off the glass and looking unsure of himself in the first half. He looked steadier and more assertive in the second, though.
- For the Spurs fans of a certain age, doesn’t Vassell’s shooting form remind you of former swingman Willie Anderson?
- Galvanized by Towns’ return, the Wolves were able to find ample space at the rim and from distance - with Malik Beasley the biggest recipient of his center’s playmaking. San Antonio’s Johnson netted 10 points with excellent shooting and its bench temporarily closed the deficit to two at one point. Naz Reid capped off a sizzling quarter of Wolves shooting (69% and 6-for-6 from three) with a pray-it-in shot to make it 34-28.
- DeRozan put himself in the scoring sheet often to start the second. San Antonio played the defensive passing lanes better - briefly took the lead midway through off a 9-0 run. Both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the half and San Antonio left it up by two - thanks to favorable free throw and points off turnovers disparity - while withstanding Minnesota’s continued hot shooting.
- Walker IV’s stepback three after the break briefly gave San Antonio its biggest lead of the night. DeRozan continued his shotmaking from all over the court, while Towns asserted himself against the Spurs bigs in the paint and on the offensive boards to some success. Minnesota drew the Spurs into the bonus and Aldridge into foul trouble. Rudy Gay hit on his first four shots to help maintain San Antonio’s lead. The Wolves ended the period on a 10-0 run (highlighted by two inexplicable Reid 3-pointers) to reclaim the lead.
- A pair of Mills threes allowed the Spurs to briefly re-take the lead. Both teams exchanged leads for the bulk of the final stanza. Towns acted as a Tim Duncan-like distributor from the post, while San Antonio relied heavily on DeRozan’s creativity.
- In the frenetic waning minutes, Spurs nemesis Ricky Rubio re-directed a rebound to Edwards for an open three to make it Wolves by two. Aldridge converted 1-for-2 from the line. DeAngelo Russell nailed an open jumper. DeRozan converted consecutive high degree-of-difficulty shots in the paint and the rim to put the Spurs up two momentarily. Towns connected on a late three to put them up by one and DeRozan countered with yet another difficult floater. Russell hit a clutch stepback three to make it 113-111. Fouled on a quick drive into the teeth of the Wolves’ defense, DeRozan converted both free throws to tie it up. Russell was not able to connect over Mills on Minnesota’s last shot of regulation.
- In overtime, Aldridge was able to coax Towns into a traveling violation. The Spurs worked around the Wolves zone with a Murray three, a Johnson putback, and a Mills three. A Towns tip-dunk cut the Spurs lead to four. DeRozan somehow found Mills in the left corner for an absolutely last possible microsecond jumper to make it 125-119. Beasley connected from distance to cut it to three. Aldridge redirected an errant Edwards pass up in the air and Mills came down with the carom to secure the victory.
For the Timberwolves fan’s perspective, visit Canis Hoopus.
Both teams return to the Target Center in less than 24 hours to finish the two game series Sunday evening at 7:00 PM CDT.