In the 6th game of their grueling 7 game road trip, the Minnesota Timberwolves were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 116-100 on the night that long time Spur and defensive stopper Bruce Bowen officially had his jersey retired. With center Nikola Pekovic out for the rest of the road trip with sore ankles, the Spurs dominated the glass and physically imposed themselves on an injury-plagued and noticeably exhausted Timberpups squad.
At halftime, the Spurs held the advantage on the Timberwolves 56-47, as the Wolves narrowed an 18 point deficit after the first quarter. The Spurs absolutely dominated the boards, outrebounding the Pups 31-21, helping lead to 10 more shot attempts for the Spurs than the Wolves in the first half. However, things only got worse for the Pups in the second half as the Spurs extended their lead to as many as 20 in the third quarter and the game pretty much stayed that way the rest of the game.
Very few positives can be taken away from tonight. The first was the play of backup PG JJ Barea, who used his speed to get past an older Spurs team and went on to net 18 points on 7-13 shooting while dishing out 11 assists. Kevin Love recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds, but was battered and bruised down low and hit only 5 of his 13 shot attempts. Anthony Tolliver continues to take advantage of his opportunities and scored 16 points in 31 minutes of play. Lastly, Wayne Ellington hit 7 of his 11 shots on his way to a 15 point ball game. Otherwise, tonight was a major off night for a Wolves team in dire need of a few days off and some good health.
There was no accountability on defense tonight and the Wolves were outmuscled and outhustled in virtually every aspect of the game. Their transition defense was nonexistent for stretches of the game and the Spurs picked apart the Pups defense with backdoor cuts that ended in wide-open dunks and layups. The weak side defense was very poor and wing players got beat off the dribble all game long. It was simply too easy for players like Danny Green to make one move and a few dribbles through the defense and end up with a wide-open layup.
Manu Ginobli used the shot fake to perfection, always keeping his defender off balance. With Tony Parker leaving in the second quarter due to a tightened hamstring, Ginobli ran the point for much of the second half and used his ability to penetrate into the defense to set his teammates up with easy shot opportunities. Tim Duncan returned to his championship form and posted 21 points and 15 rebounds in only 24 minutes of play. The Pups simply had no answer for the future Hall of Famer and best PF to ever play the game.
Keeping this short, the lack of accountability and hustle on the defensive end were present throughout the entirety of the game. The Spurs outrebounded the Wolves 56-41 and got way too many second chance points. The only thing that kept this game from getting seriously out of hand was the decent shooting from the Pups, who shot 44% from the field compared to the Spurs’ 47%. San Antonio has a very nice team put together and are a very tough matchup on the road, but it is going to be games like these where the Pups are going to need to display their resilience and by responding to adversity with increased effort. Watching them tonight, they simply looked as if they did not care. The Wolves have one day off and then will finish their longest road trip of the season with a matchup in Oklahoma City on Friday night.
Photo Credits: Eric Gray – Associated Press