The Spurs were without Tim Duncan & Manu Ginobli, but it didn't matter as they got some contributions from a couple of role players to grab the 10-point victory.
The Wolves played this one close through the first three-and-a-half quarters, but the Spurs pulled away late and captured their 11th straight victory.
There are a number of "Big Threes" in the NBA today: LeBron, Wade & Bosh; Melo, Amar'e & Chandler; Rondo, Pierce & KG; Rose, Deng & Noah; Kobe, Pau & Dwight (haha); Westbrook, Durant & Ibaka; and usually Parker, Ginobli & Duncan. Tonight, without Timmy D & Manu; Danny Green & Kawhi Leonard joined Tony Parker as all three of them put together some very impressive performances and for at least tonight, formed a new "Big Three".
Tony Parker scored 31pts and added 5reb, 8ast and 2stls; Danny Green finished the night with 28pts, 3reb, 3ast and 3stls. He absolutely torched the Wolves from deep, hitting 8-of-12 from three!! Kawhi Leonard had 19pts, 10reb, 1ast, 2stls and a block. Together these three scored 78pts and had 18reb, 12ast, 7stls and 1blk. They shot 27-for-50 (54%) from the field, 10-for-16 from deep (63%) from deep and 14-for-15 (93%) from the line. Between Leonard & Green, they hit all 10 of the Spurs' threes, going 10-for-15 (67%) between the two of them, whereas the rest of the team shot 0-for-10.
The Timberwolves were led by Nikola Pekovic, who finished the night with 21pts, 10reb and 1blk. Pek struggled early on getting his shot going, but finished the night 5-for-9 from the field and set a new career-high with 11 made free throws and tied a career-high with his 12 attempts. Derrick Williams recorded his third double-double of the season with 15pts & 12reb in 28 minutes. As usual, his shooting was a little streaky in this one (5-for-12 from the field), but he was aggressive looking for his shot and put together a good game after two 'stinkers' in his last two outings. Ricky Rubio struggled to shoot the ball (not surprising), but he still finished with 9pts, 4reb, 11ast and 3stls. He did shoot 3-of-13 from the field, but there's absolutely no doubting that he's gaining more and more confidence with each outing. Just imagine if he had a reliable three-point shooter to pass to and if these Wolves could actually knock down their open looks?! He'd probably average 15 assists on the season!
The Spurs may have been without two of their players, but the Wolves were without five of theirs! Both Kevin Love (hand) and Chase Budinger (knee) were out, however they were both at the game sitting on/behind the bench. Chase said earlier this week that they're both still about a month away. Andrei Kirilenko sat this one out with a quad strain and Mickael Gelabale got the start in his place. This was Mickael's first start since Feb. 2007 (Gelly finished with 10 points including hitting 2 of 3 from deep and added 3 rebounds). The other two of course, are Brandon Roy (knees) & Malcolm Lee (knee/hip).
The Wolves took a two-point lead after the first quarter (23-21) thanks in large part to Ricky Rubio and their starting 4 & 5 players. Ricky Rubio had 5 of his assists within the first six minutes of the game, while Derrick Williams & Nikola Pekovic each scored 6 points apiece. The Spurs got 8 points from Tony Parker and Kawhi Lenoard added 6. Each team got off to a poor shooting start (MIN at 40% and SAS at 38.1%).
San Antonio pulled away in the second quarter to build a 6-point lead at the half. They were led by their newfound (at least for the moment) 'Big Three' as Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard each had 7 points and Danny Green added 6. The Wolves got 5 pts from Barea & 4 from Pek as they were outscored 19-26 in that second quarter.
The third quarter was basically played even as the Wolves outscored the Spurs 23-21 there as well. Not only was it the same scoring of the first quarter, but the Wolves got similar production from Williams & Pekovic. Pekovic scored 8 of his 21 points in that quarter, while Williams added 7 of his 15. The Spurs got 6 points from Parker and another 5 from Green to lead them. After three quarters the Wolves went into the final quarter with the NBA's best team, trailing by just 4 points.
The Wolves continued to exchange baskets and even took slim leads through the first part of the fourth quarter, however Danny Green, Tony Parker & Tiago Splitter decided that they wanted to win this one, caught fire late and pulled away for the ten-point 94-104 win. Tony Parker scored 10 of his 31 points, Danny Green doubled his point total from the first three quarters and scored 14 of his 28 points, while Tiago Splitter added 8 of his 12. The Wolves got some balanced scoring, but also got 10 points from Barea in the fourth. Unfortunately it wasn't enough and the Wolves are now losers in 13 of their last 15 games.
MISC. PLAYER STATS: Nikola Pekovic set a new season-high/career-high with his 11 made free throws, while also tying a season/career-high with the 12 attempts. Ricky Rubio attempted a season-high 13 field goals and played a season-high 37 minutes, he also tied a season-high with his 4 defensive rebounds. Alexey Shved tied a season-high with 2 offensive rebounds (his 7th game this season w/2o-rebs in a game). Derrick Williams tied a season-high with his 5 three attempts (3rd time this season) and also set new season-highs in defensive rebounds (11) and total rebounds (12), the 11 d-rebs tie a career-high, while his 12 rebounds is a new career-high. Starting in place of AK47, Gelabale played a season-high 34 minutes and tied a season-high with 2 threes made and 3 threes attempted, his two made threes ties a career-high (for the 7th time in his career).
MISC. TEAM STATS: The Wolves shot their second-best free throw percentage of the season at 87%. The Spurs shot the second-best free throw percentage of a Wolves opponent this season at 95.2%, while also tying the second-best mark for steals (13).
A few notes on tonight's game...
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action on Friday night, when they'll take on the New York Knicks at the Target Center. That one will tip at 7pmCT. We should have an update on the Gelabale/Johnson situation at some point tomorrow or early Friday, so stay tuned for that! Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!