The Spurs were the latest to visit the Twin Cities on Wednesday night to face off against our Timberwolves. If you want to compare two teams heading in polar opposite directions this season, look no further. The Spurs came into tonight’s game winners of 10 in a row while the Wolves were 2-8 in their last 10 games and have been struggling mightily. Those streaks continued this evening.
As expected, Andrei Kirilenko was added to the PUP list (which immediately leads to a new marketing idea for the site that I can’t believe took this long to think of). In any case, AK47 didn’t suit up, but the Spurs ran into their own problems, as both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were scratched from the lineup as well. The Pups opened up with Rubio, Ridnour, Gelabale, Williams, and Pekovic. The Spurs countered with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Matt Bonner, and Tiago Splitter.
Within minutes of the opening tip, Ricky Rubio missed a layup and was complaining to one of the referees. From the other side of the court, Joey Crawford called a technical foul on Rubio. Just to be clear, Rubio was not complaining to Crawford on the way up the court, it was a different referee. Joey Crawford can’t help himself when he is on national TV. He is the Ed Hochuli of the NBA.
Going into the first timeout of the game with about five minutes left in the quarter, the Spurs held a 15-12 advantage. Rubio, continuing to show marked improvement in his game, had 5 assists on those early points. At the end of the 1st quarter the Wolves held a 23-21 lead. Both Williams and Pekovic were active down low and able to position themselves wherever they wanted in the paint against the Spurs big men.
Danny Green checked back into the game a few minutes into the 2nd quarter and started a mini-barrage from downtown. Green was 3-4 from the three point line and helped give the Spurs a small lead halfway through the quarter, 35-33. Greg Stiemsma continues to get minutes from the coach despite what Chris Johnson was bringing to the table during Adelman’s absence. I really have no explanation for this.
As Big Al predicted in our preview, the 1st half finished with a low offensive output. The Spurs held a 47-41 lead over the Wolves. Here are my HT thoughts through a Wolves lens:
- Three point shooting from the Spurs (Green and Leonard) really provided a nice boost for the visitor; it would be nice to have that consistently on the Pups
- Ridnour is no longer best suited to play PG in the NBA due to his defensive deficiencies and his declining playmaking ability
- Someone needs to pass along the appropriate exercise routine to the Wolves that improves Pekovic’s vertical leaping ability – he needs to dunk the ball much more frequently
The opening minutes of the 3rd quarter saw a fair amount of back and forth with the Twolves unable to cut into the Spurs lead, largely due to Tony Parker’s continued efforts to lead his team without the help of Duncan or Manu. However, in the latter stages of the quarter, the Wolves came to life. Pekovic had a strong quarter to keep the Wolves within striking distance, including hitting his first 10 FT attempts through two and a half quarters.
The remainder of the team picked up their energy level a bit as the Wolves managed to take the lead from the Spurs for a few seconds. Unfortunately, the team failed to execute at the end of the quarter and gave the lead right back. Luke Ridnour failed to commit to go for a steal on a cross-court pass and then fouled Danny Green on a three point play (fortunately, Green missed the FT). Then, with the last possession of the quarter, the Wolves failed to walk away with any points as JJ fed Gelabale in the corner and he subsequently threw up an air-ball as the clock expired. The Spurs held a 68-64 lead going into the 4th quarter.
Danny Green’s successes from beyond the arc continued into the 4th quarter as he hit four more three pointers in the final frame and provided enough firepower for the Spurs to close out the game. The Wolves just don’t have the ability to match a hot streak like Green’s right now.
As for the Wolves, Ricky struggled mightily to find his shot, finishing the game 3-13 from the field. JJ Barea continues to take the team out of games more frequently than he puts them back in one, as he finished 6-15 on the evening from the field (in just 24 minutes). Shved and Cunningham also shot a low percentage from the field for the evening.
Keys of the Game
- Wings – Paul McCartney’s other band is highly overrated. With hits like “Live and let die” and “Band on the run” … sorry, my mistake. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard finished the game with 40 points. This doubled up the Wolves starting SG/SF combination and helped kill any small run the Wolves made.
- Ball Movement – The Spurs had 24 assists on 37 baskets. The Wolves finished the game with only 16 assists on 33 baskets. Aside from Rubio, who finished with 11 of those assists, the ball was at a standstill for the Wolves on offense. Conversely, the Spurs swung the ball around the court which helped lead to many of the three pointers made.
Three Stars of the Game
- Danny Green – Finished the game with 8 made three pointers and 28 points. He also threw in a trio of threes … in rebounds, assists, and steals.
- Tony Parker – 31 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds for the French PG. He dominated early in the game and gave the Wolves fits.
- Nikola Pekovic – I was going to give this to Kawhi, but Pekovic deserves it just as much, given his 21 & 10 performance and 11-12 from the FT line. Throw in that he only did this on 9 official shots makes it more impressive … and more baffling that the Wolves backcourt didn’t get him the ball more frequently.