Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolves destroy Spurs with balanced attack

The Minnesota Timberwolves decimated the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night at Target Center, using a balanced attack and stifling defense to get the Wolves a 128-89 win.

Exactly five weeks ago, the Spurs defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in San Antonio on opening night for both teams. Things went a bit differently on Wednesday.

With Jimmy Butler gone and the team’s morale apparently reaching new heights, the Wolves played tenacious defense and smooth, nearly flawless offense en route to a victory that was all but achieved by halftime and finished with a final score of 128-89.

Robert Covington (21 points) was the only Wolves player north of 20 points, and seven players scored in double figures for Minnesota. Karl-Anthony Towns had an easy 16 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes, and Derrick Rose scored 16 points on eight shots in just 18 minutes off the bench.

The Wolves’ defense was impressive throughout the game, with crisp rotations all over the floor and swift switches and stunts on the perimeter, making the Spurs’ offense entirely ineffective.

San Antonio scored just nine points in the second quarter and went more than nine minutes in between baskets. The Wolves, for their part, scored 29 points in the frame and took a 23-point lead into the break.

The second half saw the Wolves build a lead north of 40 points before the starters began to get their rest. Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague each played just 24 minutes, Towns played 28, Andrew Wiggins played 30, and Robert Covington was the team leader at 31 minutes.

The fourth quarter was the Josh Okogie show (more on that below), and James Nunnally was the only player on the active roster who did not score in the game.

This one was impressive for a number of reasons, but defense was the name of the game as the Wolves held their third-straight opponent (and fifth in the last seven games) under 100 points. It was also the seventh consecutive game in which the Wolves held their opponent under 103 points.

Highlight of the Night

Player of the Game

Robert Covington: 21 points (8-15 FG, 4-9 3P, 1-2 FT), 9 rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block

This award could have easily gone to Derrick Rose, who came off the bench like a flamethrower and knocked down four of five 3-point attempts and scored 16 points in just 18 minutes of play.

But Covington was all over on defense early in the game when things were still close and kept knocking down 3-pointers well into the second half. He was probably the best player on the floor in this one, and that gets him the DWW POG.

Notable Timberwolves Box Score Lines

  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 16 points (6-11 FG, 2-4 3P, 2-2 FT), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, one block
  • Derrick Rose: 16 points (6-8 FG, 4-5 3P), 2 assists, one rebound
  • Taj Gibson: 13 points (6-10 FG, 1-2 FT), 8 rebounds, one assist
  • Josh Okogie: 12 points (4-7 FG, 3-4 3P, 1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal
  • Dario Saric: 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 3P), 6 rebounds
  • Andrew Wiggins: 10 points (3-15 FG, 1-5 3P, 3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, one assist

Towns was quiet, although he had a number of impressive hustle plays and was very good when he was on the floor. Ditto for Rose, who is suddenly an all-world shooter from beyond the arc.

Gibson was busy early, even delaying Saric’s entry into the game because he was playing so effectively. Okogie was all over the place when he entered the game midway through the fourth quarter, providing the dunk of the year thus far for the Wolves.

Saric was solid in just 17 minutes of play. Wiggins was quietly terrible, although his 3-pointer with just 1.4 seconds left in the first half was a big shot that made the Wolves’ momentum carry through the break. Interestingly, the Wolves came out of the locker room running plays to get Wiggins the ball, and while it got him on the scoreboard early, his shooting woes continued throughout the night.

Next: Robert Covington's impact on the Wolves' defense

What’s Next?

The Wolves will stay home and host the Boston Celtics on Friday night. The game is at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on NBA TV.