Checking into the game in the first half of Tuesday’s make-up game (Mexico City reschedule) between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, Spurs guard Danny Green was yawning as he prepared to walk onto the floor. Green’s yawning was a very close symbol of the type of game that ensued in the first half, as the Wolves ended up blowing out the Spurs 110-91.
Whether it was turnovers (16), missed shots (44% shooting), or just a lack of energy, the game was pretty much over by the first half, as the Spurs were down by 21 points in the first 24 minutes. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would start Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter in the second half, but the combination still had no effect, as the Wolves opened the quarter with an 11-3 run, and Popovich benched his core player’s midway through the quarter, until the remainder of the game, aside from Leonard and Danny Green.
The machine was unable to find a rhythm in the first half
The first half was a major struggle for the Spurs as they scored a season low 34 points at halftime. The Spurs couldn’t even crack 20 points in either the first (19 points) or second quarter (15 points). The Wolves scored 14 points off the Spurs’ 10 first half turnovers, but even when the Spurs were taking care of the basketball, they just couldn’t hit a shot, as the team shot 15-of-49 in the first half with just seven assists.
In the second half, though Popovich pulled Duncan, Ginobili, and Tiago Splitter early, the Spurs’ remaining core players and reserves actually outscored the Wolves 57-56 in the second half. As the Wolves lead had risen as high as 28 points, the Spurs did put together a run early in the fourth quarter, as Leonard, Green, Cory Joseph, and Matt Bonner helped cut the Wolves’ lead down to 14 points with seven minutes remaining. Minnesota would always find an answer, whether it was a 3-pointer that just tipped itself in, or a shot by Ricky Rubio.
In the second half, Joseph finished with 13 points (4-of-4 shooting) and two steals, Bonner finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, Jeff Ayres with seven points, and Leonard with five points and two steals.
Boris Diaw (13 points) and Tim Duncan (10 points) also finished in double-figures, but like most of their teammates in the first half, they needed 24 shots for those combined 23 points. Due to the cold shooting night and turnovers, the Spurs only assisted on 53% of their made baskets. The team tallied just 19 assists in the loss, the same amount they totaled in the loss previously to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Wolves’ charge led by the Spaniard
The playmaker for Minnesota from the get-go was the Spaniard, Ricky Rubio. Rubio finished with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, along with seven assists. The area where Rubio was really efficient was his mid-range jumper, as he made 5-of-7 of the shots. The mid-range jumper is usually a shot the Spurs’ defense would traditionally give Rubio, as he’s shooting 34.5% on the season from the mid-range areas where he made his mid-range jumpers Tuesday.
Corey Brewer (14 points, 4 steals), Luc Mbah a Moute (11 points), and Ronny Turiaf (10 points, 9 rebounds) also had efficient outings for the Wolves. In the win, the Wolves’ offense scored over 27 points in all but one quarter of the game. The Spurs’ defense actually played fairly well on Kevin Love (19 points on 15 shots), but the Wolves still had six players score in double-figures. One thing to note about the loss, the Spurs also got blown out in Minnesota on the road toward the end of the season last year 107-83.
In the third quarter, the Spurs announced Ginobili would not return to the game with a left calf contusion. On Ginobili’s final play before being subbed out, he had given a hand off to Duncan, who then fed Splitter down in the post. He didn’t seem to walk off the floor with an apparent injury. After the game, Popovich told the media Ginobili was kneed in the back of the leg, and according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News, Popovich didn’t seem overly concerned about the injury.
4 Regular Season Games left
With four regular season games remaining, the Spurs are holding onto the best record in the NBA at 60-18, and San Antonio has a 4 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (55-21) in the Western Conference. The Thunder are currently in play with the Sacramento Kings as of 10:10 PM CST, so the Spurs’ lead will change if the Thunder either win or lose.
Where San Antonio Stands
- Regular Season: 60-18 (Lead the NBA)
- Road Record: 29-10
- Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 29-16
- Vs. The Western Conference: 36-12
- Post All-Star Break Record: 22-3
- Of the Spurs’ 18 losses, 11 have been by double-figures.
(All Stats via NBA.com)