The San Antonio Spurs, who have won three straight games, will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday when the teams meet in their second game against each other in as many nights in Minneapolis.
The Spurs and Timberwolves played Saturday, with San Antonio posting a 125-122 overtime victory. Sunday’s game is the fourth of a five-game road trip for the Spurs, who had lost four consecutive contests before leaving on this trip.
Saturday’s win followed two victories in Los Angeles against the Clippers and Lakers.
“With every outing, we are playing hard. It’s just a matter of playing smarter, getting used to each other, executing better,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But (the Spurs’) effort, their aggressiveness and their grunt has been really good.”
The key to San Antonio’s turnaround has been the return of LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed three straight games with a balky left knee and an undisclosed illness. He played in both wins in Los Angeles, scoring a season-high 28 points in Thursday’s game against the defending champs.
Aldridge has been slow into stride early after offseason shoulder surgery, which also kept him out of the last year’s seeding games in the COVID-impacted bubble.
“We knew it was a matter of time,” Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan said. “(Aldridge) just needed to get his wind under him, his feel for the game back.”
Aldridge scored just 10 points on Saturday as he dealt with foul trouble. DeRozan picked up the slack, hitting for 38 points — the most he’s scored in a game in his two-year-plus stint with San Antonio — with Dejounte Murray scoring 22 points and taking 14 rebounds, Patty Mills adding 21 and Keldon Johnson tallying 17 for the Spurs.
Minnesota’s loss on Saturday was its seventh straight; the Timberwolves are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings but played better against the Spurs in the first game of the back-to-back.
The Timberwolves got 25 points and 13 rebounds from Karl-Anthony Towns in the setback in his return after missing six games with a dislocated left wrist.
Malik Beasley led Minnesota with 29 points while Naz Reid and D’Angelo Russell scoring 16 each, Anthony Edwards adding 13 and Jarrett Culver hitting for 10 in the loss.
The Timberwolves have been shackled with defensive woes over their first nine games, and entered play on Saturday with the worst defensive efficiency in the NBA at 118 points allowed per 100 possessions.
“Our offense right now is hurting our defense,” Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio told the Star-Tribune before Saturday’s game. “When we miss a couple shots, we just lose the energy, and that can’t happen. When we take bad shots, we kind of put our defense in a [worse] position. We’ve got to get better. It’s time to really regroup, watch film, see what we’re doing wrong, get on the court, run the right system, get to the right spots and run it.”
The Timberwolves play six of their next seven games at home.
–Field Level Media