Finishing the game off on a 10-2 run, the San Antonio Spurs took the Minnesota Timberwolves to school in the final three minutes Friday night in San Antonio. The Wolves missed their final five shots and complained to the referees while the Spurs pushed and shoved, er, “battled” their way to the rim.
They call it execution. The Spurs did it. It’s why they are the Spurs. Or it could be because the Wolves bench was overwhelmed by the Manu Ginobili-led Spurs bench who scored 55 points to the Wolves 12. Ginobili scored 16 in the fourth and finished with 24.
The Wolves lead 108-107 after two free throws by Nikola Pekovic with 2:45 remaining. Pek finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds on 7-13 shooting, but a couple missed opportunities at the rim ended with missed layups and gesturing to the refs looking for a call that never came.
Kevin Love led the Wolves with 42 points and 14 rebounds with 8 made three pointers with an insane shooting display in the third quarter — hanging 35 in the frame.
The Wolves put up 30 points in the first quarter. Taking a three point lead into the second where the Wolves bench gave it right back and then some. Ginobili led the bench attack, but Marco Belinelli and Boris Diaw each had 12 while the Spurs starters got production out of Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points on 11 shots while Tim Duncan had 14 rebounds and 8 assists despite struggling from the field, going 5-11 for 12 points.
Comments after the game by Love and Rubio noted when the Wolves play this well they can hang with any team in the league — and coming within the final minutes of beating the Spurs on their home floor is definitely a sign of progress — a tight game with 20 lead changes demanded precision by the Spurs to earn the win.
Random thought: Interesting how Ricky Rubio can go 5-13, Kevin Martin can go 4-12, and your first thought will be how well Rubio shot and how poor Martin did. Ricky hit three mid-range pull-ups in a row early that got my attention. Alexey Shved, while still not anywhere near as productive as the Wolves need, again showed a pulse with 7 points in 9 rebounds while not looking completely shell-shocked with physical play.
The Spurs did this to the Clippers last year and Memphis and so on and so on. It’ll be exciting to see how the Wolves respond over their next couple games.
Wolves play in Memphis on Sunday at 5 CST.