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The Spurs keep pace but fall short to a scorching Wolves offense

Without Vassell and Primo, the Spurs continued to show that they’re a fiery group that’ll play hard and fast at all times

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

As expected, the second game in this miniseries between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves went a bit differently than the first one. For starters, the Wolves only made eight three-pointers in the entire game on Monday, a number they eclipsed just over nine minutes into the game (they ended up setting a franchise record for threes in a quarter with 10). The other big change from Monday to Wednesday’s first quarter was the Spurs ended that one being up 39-28, while tonight, they were down by that same score.

The second quarter was as up-and-down as a quarter can get, in the roller coaster sense, not the running one. The Spurs started off slow, got hot in the middle, and then for a couple of minutes, played hot potato with the Wolves. With a little help from the bench, Josh Richardson and Keita Bates-Diop especially, the Spurs were able to get within eight at one point, but a cold spell over the last 5 minutes of the quarter led to them entering the half trailing 68-53. As the half neared, it seemed like the refs could feel both teams needed to get into the locker room, as there was a bit of contact that went uncalled both ways — even when Karl-Anthony Towns got hit in the face and started to bleed.

It was mentioned in Monday’s recap how the Wolves haven’t been a very good third quarter team, and in the first three minutes of this one, it looked like that was going to be the case yet again. In the blink of an eye, the Spurs cut the Wolves 15-point lead to seven, and eventually got within five. However, Minnesota regained their composure and were able to keep the Spurs at arm’s length, even though the Spurs ended up with their highest scoring quarter of the young season by putting up 41.

In the end, the Wolves' firepower was just too much for the Spurs to handle without Devin Vassell and Joshua Primo. Anytime it felt like the Spurs were going to get over the hump, a three would fall for the Wolves. They ended with four players with 20-plus points and shooting over 60% from the field. It was a valiant effort, as seven Spurs scored in double figures, led by Keldon Johnson’s 27, but it wasn’t quite enough. They fall to the Wolves 134-122 and head home for a Friday matchup with DeMar DeRozan’s Chicago Bulls after a 3-1 road trip.

Game Notes

  • As he did on Monday, Jeremy Sochan got off to a hot start scoring the ball. Except in this one, it came by way of the three-point ball instead of in the paint. His shot has been the most criticized aspect of his game, and while he may not become a 40% shooter, knocking them down enough to keep the defense honest will unlock so much of what he’s known for: playmaking.
  • Anthony Edwards looked like a guy who had a night off in between games. After Monday night’s loss, Karl-Anthony Towns criticized Edwards’ diet and made it seem like he wasn’t in good enough shape to play on back-to-back nights. Whether he took that personally or not, we’ll never know, but Edwards started the game off by hitting three after three and ended the night with 34 points. He was definitely in attack mode from the jump, which was a complete 180 from Monday.
  • He didn’t play, but Devin Vassell’s impact was still felt on this game. His absence from the lineup highlighted the lack of shot creators and scorers the Spurs currently have. While Tre Jones does an admirable job of getting into the paint hitting floaters, Vassell has the innate ability of being able to stop and pop a jumper whenever he chooses to. And in a game that the Spurs needed to keep up with a Wolves team that was hitting threes at an alarming rate, having him probably would’ve helped quite a bit. Should I also mention having him on defense maybe could’ve helped?
  • The Wolves may have the big three that most fans know, Edwards, Gobert, and KAT, but over the past couple of seasons, they’ve developed a few quality role players. Tonight, Jaylen Nowell showed just what he can bring the Wolves off the bench. If I hadn’t looked at the stat sheet, I would’ve guessed he ended up scoring 100 tonight. After a highlight dunk, the Wolves fans in attendance started chanting his name. He ended up with 23, and every one of them was needed. Without him, the Spurs might’ve stolen a second game up north.

Play of the night

The moment I watched this one live, I came here to write about it. With 8:41 left in the third, Keldon Johnson decided he had enough of pulling up for floaters and threes. He took a feed from Josh Richardson and went right at the rim as if there was nobody there. Spoiler alert: there were people there.