Spurs defeat Wolves for ninth straight time
SAN ANTONIO—Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 as the San Antonio Spurs shrugged off a ragged first three quarters and rolled to a 122-114 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at the AT&T Center.
Leonard's rebound and rush down the court for a dunk over two Minnesota defenders with 7:36 to play highlighted a 20-2 run for San Antonio that turned a 90-83 deficit into a 103-92 lead.
Leonard has 12 games of 30 or more points this season and has reached that mark in four consecutive contests. He's the first San Antonio player to score 30-plus points in four straight contests since Tim Duncan in January 2004.
Tony Parker added 14 points for San Antonio (32-9) and Patty Mills had 11 points. The Spurs' bench outscored Minnesota's reserves 37-21.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (14-28) with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Ricky Rubio added 21 points and 14 assists, Zach LaVine had 18 points, Gorgui Dieng scored 17, Shabazz Muhammad poured in 15 and Andrew Wiggins hit for 10.
Minnesota utilized only eight players in the game and six of them scored in double figures.
The first quarter was back-and-forth between the two teams, featured 11 lead changes and ended tied at 30. Towns had 11 points and five rebounds in the quarter and the Spurs balanced his prowess with six points apiece from Leonard, Mills and Manu Ginobili and a five-point edge at the free throw line. Sixteen of San Antonio's 30 points in the first 12 minutes came from its bench players.
The Timberwolves opened up a 51-44 lead on a Towns putback layup at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter and Minnesota kept its lead through the rest of the sessiion. Two free throws by Jonathan Simmons with 1.8 to play in the half brought San Antonio back to within 71-67 at intermission.
The 71 points scored by the Timberwolves in the first half were the second-most surrendered by San Antonio this season and were just 16 points less that Minnesota scored the entire game in its last contest, a 98-87 loss to Dallas.
Towns led Minnesota with 17 points in the half while Rubio had 16 (going 10 of 10 from the free throw line) and Muhammad hit for 15. The Timberwolves shot 55.9 percent from the floor and took 30 free throws (making 29) in the first two periods.
Leonard paced the Spurs with 17 points and Aldridge had 15. San Antonio had just two turnovers in the first half and shot 56.1 percent on its field goals.
The Timberwolves ran their lead to as much as eight points in the third quarter and looked to be in a comfortable spot after Towns' 3-pointer at the 1:40 mark had Minnesota up 90-83. But the Spurs woke up in a major way, scoring the final nine points of the quarter including a 4-point play by Leonard with 38.6 seconds to play that pushed San Antonio on top at 92-90 heading into the fourth quarter.
A driving layup by David Lee gave the Spurs a 94-90 lead with 10:50 to play in regulation—their biggest of the game up to that point—and San Antonio just wore down the Timberwolvesfor the rest of the game.
NOTES: San Antonio beat Minnesota 105-91 on Dec. 6 at the Target Center and owned a five-game home winning streak against the Timberwolves before Tuesday's game. The Spurs had defeated the Timberwolves eight straight times dating back to a loss in April 8, 2014 in Minneapolis. ... The Spurs set a Minnesota opponents' record for most rebounds in a non-overtime game with 64 on Feb. 6, 1999. ... The San Antonio bench outscored or matched production of the opposing reserves in 27 of its first 40 games. Before Tuesday, the Spurs' reserves were first in the league in assists per game (10.2) and 3-point percentage (.398). ... the Timberwolves began the day 0-10 this season in games decided by four points or fewer. A year ago, Minnesota finished 9-11 (.450) in that category; it's 53-112 (.321) in the past decade. ... Next up for the Spurs is a home contest Thursday versus Denver while Minnesota travels to Los Angeles to face the Clippers, also on Thursday.