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San Antonio vs. Minnesota, Final Score: Spurs’ late rally not enough in 127-121 loss to Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards explodes for a career-high 49 points, ending the Silver and Black’s three-game winning streak.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs fell on the road to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, 127-121, hurting the Silver and Black’s chances of moving up to the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference play-in.

All five of the Spurs’ starter finished the night in double-digits, along with three bench players, led by Keldon Johnson with 20 points and Devin Vassell with 18. The team struggled to contain Anthony Edwards on defense, though, who hung a career-high 49 points.

San Antonio likely would’ve lost by more, but Minnesota nearly played itself out of the game by trying to get Edwards to 50 points. Edwards took every shot down the stretch, most of them awful looks, and the Spurs cut it all the way down to a two-score game with possession of the ball. San Antonio couldn’t pull off the rally, but Matt Bonner put it best in the postgame show: it was an “insult to the Basketball Gods.”

Observations

  • Well, they did it. The Spurs are officially in the play-in and knocked the Lakers out of contention to get there. The memes have been great, my conversations with my Lakers-fan friends have been great. But possibly my favorite part of this whole thing was watching Matt Bonner relish in it in the pregame show. He’s been retired for six years and it still means that much to him — so you know it has to mean a lot to the guys currently on the team, too.
  • I sent my friend a stat graphic showing how good Tre Jones has been over the past three games while starting in place of Dejounte Murray: 13.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, (26 total, 0 turnovers), 5.3 RPG. And he goes “Are we gonna pretend that two of those games weren’t against the church league Blazers?” And I said “Yes, we are.” And then Tre went and threw away a bad pass in the first quarter, ending the streak. Sigh.
  • Before the game, Bill Land pointed out that Gregg Popovich’s game plan against Denver was to not lock in on Nikola Jokic so much, but to really focus on shutting down everyone around him. And that Jokic had a career-high 38 shot attempts in the game and finished with 42 points and that San Antonio still came out with a win. And Bill said something like “I wonder if they’ll do something similar against Karl-Anthony Towns.” Because if you’ll recall, Towns dropped 60 on the Spurs the last time they faced each other. But if that was the strategy, Anthony Edwards took offense to it, scoring 9 points in short order and putting the Timberwolves up 14-6 by the 7:16 mark and forcing Pop to call the first timeout of the game.
  • One request: please, please, PLEASE stop showing the replay of Town kneeing Josh Primo in the groin on a loop. I do not need to see every angle of that play, and I did not need to see the flashback of KAT kneeing Jakob Poeltl from a few weeks ago. Once is enough for both of those plays.
  • Bench mob to the rescue! Zach Collins and Devin Vassell both entered the game with 3:20 left in the first quarter, joining Keita Bates-Diop, Romeo Langford and Josh Richardson, the Silver and Black trailing 25-21. By the end of the first quarter, though, the Spurs were up 35-30. Richardson played especially effective moonlighting as a backup point guard, posting seven points and four assists. Granted, Towns was on the bench for the entire stretch and Edwards came off the floor about halfway through it. But it definitely gave San Antonio some momentum heading into the second.
  • The Spurs were having a lot of success on offense running a high pick-and-roll, usually getting a good look inside or on the kickout. About midway through the second quarter, Poeltl rolled, got the ball and hit one of those shot put-type shots where he just kind of flings the ball at the hoop from seven or eight feet out. Bill Land said a fan suggested referring to those as “Jak-A-Shots.” I’m a fan.
  • Poeltl did a relatively good job defending Towns through the first half, holding him to 11 points on 4-9 shooting (though, Towns did go 3-5 from outside). San Antonio still couldn’t come up with an answer for Edwards, who finished the first half with 20 points on 7-11 shooting. The Spurs had just one player in double-digits at the half — Devin Vassell, with 12 points — and went to the locker room trailing 64-57.
  • Towns immediately took over the third quarter, though. He was whistled for an offensive foul on Minnesota’s first possession, which would’ve been his fourth, but the Timberwolves challenged and got it overturned, making it an and-1. Towns drove inside and hit a floater on the next trip down and found himself wide open on a pick-and-pop 3-pointer on the next for a single-handed 8-0 run. It’s like it’s March 14 all over again.
  • Malik Beasley followed it up with back-to-back triples to jump in front by 18 and it would’ve been easy for the Spurs to give it up at that point. They didn’t, though, instead going on a 13-2 run to cut the deficit back down to double digits with the help of the bench mob again. And you got the feeling that maybe, if they kept riding the momentum, they could pull off another rally. And then Anthony Edwards canned another 3 right before the end of the quarter to make it 97-82 and give himself 32 points and it was all about over. And then he hit another on the first possession of the fourth quarter and it was all definitely over. And then, two minutes later, he hit another and you have to wonder if he’s ever going to miss again.
  • The Spurs briefly cut it down to a nine-point lead again and a four-point lead in the final minute (mainly because the Timberwolves tried like all get out to get Anthony Edwards to 50 points, even intentionally fouling in the last few seconds). But the Silver and Black never could string enough stops together to mount a real comeback. The Timberwolves scored 30-plus points in every quarter, taking the 127-121 win. Granted, San Antonio was without Dejounte Murray, its best perimeter defender. But it says something that the past two times the teams have met, one of Minnesota’s stars goes off for a career night. It’s especially concerning considering that the teams could potentially meet each other again in the play-in with the No. 8 seed on the line.