Thursday, September 1, 2016
Young, hungry T'Wolves snap Spurs win streak at twelve.
The Spurs were slow out the gate all night, despite decently responding to a 7-0 run by the T'Wolves to start the game. Foul trouble and resting Pau Gasol did not help matters, but Coach Popovich would have it no other way. When asked about Gasol's absence affecting the outcome, Popovich said:
"He's one of our best players, he's a star, but some nights, you can't see the stars 'cause we didn't want to play him and he didn't feel up to it."
The always curt Popovich also noted the team's fatigue after this impressive 12-game win streak that had the whole league buzzing, as the Spurs are now on the Warriors' heels. Even the Warriors lost at home earlier this week, when the rival Cavaliers came to visit. "Well, they're tired. I'm tired, too. We had a good run, but everything has an end. We're gonna tip our hats to Coach Thibodeau and his team of go-getters, props to their players--they beat us tonight. Season series is 1-1 now. We're gonna get some rest tomorrow and come back strong for our next game. Heck, who knows--maybe Pau will sit out again." Popovich laughed, humoring Doris Burke as he left the court to support his team in the locker room.
Ricky Rubio, despite trade rumors (some of which fancied him landing in San Antonio), had 9 assists and made a few shots to show off his improved shooting ability (still not great, but improved). Beast-like prospect, 'the Big Cat', Karl Anthony-Towns had 17 points with 15 rebounds, including a monstrous jam that rattled the rim in the first half, part of the 112-102 surprise win by the Timberwolves.
For the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard brought them back to within one shot's distance with 24 points on stellar shooting and Danny Green had high numbers as well, despite missing some longballs late that would have kept San Antonio in the running. Tiago Splitter started in place of Gasol tonight, but struggled all game long, fueling trade rumors as this is the second season now that Splitter has failed to be an effective piece of the team. No confirmation from the Spurs front office regarding the rumors, but the Spurs certainly need more help outside of the rebound-snatching but otherwise raw pickup in DeWayne Dedmon. Manu Ginobili also went scoreless tonight, missing all 6 of his shots. In good news, David Lee had 10 points off the bench and Thaddeus Young made for some nice pairings with Tony Parker in the pick-and-roll when the game was still close prior to the 4th quarter.