The Timberwolves knew that playing the Spurs on the road would be tough, and shooting 33.5 percent from the field made it impossible to keep up with the No. 1 team. In the end, Minnesota landed on the short end of the 104-86 final score.
Nikola Pekovic led the team with 22 points, followed by Kevin Love with 14. San Antonio boasted six players who scored in the double-digits, including three guys off the bench.
Minnesota appeared a step behind from the beginning, missing 12 shots in the first quarter and proving unable to capitalize off of five Spurs turnovers.
The Wolves had a big second quarter, though, and looked to turn it around. Minnesota outscored the Spurs 28-24 and entered halftime trailing by only three points. Pekovic scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half, and he came up huge with a slam dunk early in the game.
Veteran Tim Duncan gave props to Pek following the game: “Pek’s huge; he’s a strong boy. He killed us on the offensive glass, especially in the first half. He had a great game tonight all around.”
Across the board, though, Minnesota just couldn’t get its baskets to fall. Minny is a team that must rely on its starters; however, several of them played below par, including Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin who each shot only 20 percent from the field.
On the other end of the court, the Spurs shot over 50 percent the entire game. Kawhi Leonard led his squad with 17 points, but it was the bench that most impressed. Standing out for San Antonio was F/C Matt Bonner. Bonner averages just 3.4 PPG, and yet he tallied 14 points on Sunday, including going 4-of-5 from the three-point line.
“That’s just Spurs basketball,” Love said. “They’re very unselfish; they make the extra play, and that’s tough to beat, especially when they have a couple of Hall of Famers in there. They’ve played together for a long time and they’re a good team. We played them well through the half and then they became the San Antonio Spurs.”
Previous to Sunday night’s contest, Minnesota had won three of its last five games. Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf have both returned from injuries, and the Timberwolves roster is complete for the first time in months. On paper, the young team looks like they have it all going for them. And yet, their shooting continues to struggle.
At a time when Love is vying for All-Star votes, his own performance has struggled over the past few games. Despite his decent point total, eight of those points came from the charity stripe. Love went only 3-14 from the field. In addition, the double-double master grabbed only seven boards for the night.
Love has freely expressed frustration with at least a couple of his teammates, and one can’t help but think that the forward’s disgruntled attitude (and yes, we’ve seen it before) is having some impact on the team–both on and off the court.
One thing is for sure: the Timberwolves have to get it together and put work as hard as ever to get to that No. 8 playoff spot.
Coming up Next:
The Wolves will enjoy two days off and then welcome the 13-22 Sacramento Kings for a 7 p.m. tipoff Wednesday night.
The Kings should be an easy win, and Minnesota should take advantage of the situation to grab that “W” before heading on the road to face Toronto and Utah.