D. Clarke Evans/NBA Photos
The San Antonio Spurs (18-4) managed to hold off the young Minnesota Timberwolves (11-12) 117-110 in a roller coaster game at the AT&T Center on Friday, Dec. 13.
The Spurs held on to top the Timberwolves despite power forward Kevin Love erupting for 42 points and 14 rebounds.
“He’s a great player. When you can play inside and outside the way he does; he’s a tough cover,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich after the game. “I think we could have done a better job, I thought we made some fundamental errors in guarding him. But be that as it may, he’s a monster.”
“Impressive ball game for him. Shot the ball incredibly,” added Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who nearly grabbed a triple-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. “He made some really tough ones and he just kept on going. Really great game for him, he was unbelievable.”
After an exciting first half that featured four ties and 12 lead changes, the Spurs found themselves up 62-54 heading into the second half. But that’s when Minnesota’s Love exploded for 19 points in the third quarter, going 5-for-6 from the 3-point line and leading the Timberwolves to a 35-18 scoring advantage over the Spurs.
The Spurs bounced back in the fourth quarter, with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combining for 28 points. San Antonio caught fire shooting 80 percent from 3-point range and 66 percent from the field. San Antonio outscored Minnesota 37-21 in the fourth quarter sealing the victory.
Ginobili had 20 points and nine assists for the game, with 16 points and four assists coming in the fourth quarter alone.
“We’re a great team when Manu plays like that. Manu is one of the best players in the league,” said Parker after the game when asked about Ginobili’s fourth quarter play. “When he’s fresh and when he’s got his legs we are a tough team to beat.”
The Spurs’ big three, Parker, Ginobili and Duncan, ended the game with a vintage stat line of a combined 61 points, 23 assists and 21 rebounds.
“We’ve been playing with each other for a long time. Manu’s playing great this year, and Timmy’s getting back in his groove,” said Parker. “We’re going to need that when we play the tough games coming up against very good teams.”
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard also had a big night, scoring 19 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.
“Kawhi does a lot of things. He got a huge rebound when the score was very close,” said Popovich. “He gets important rebounds; gets important steals. He did a great job defensively.”
The Spurs bench outscored the Timberwolves’ bench 55-12, despite missing key front court players Aron Baynes and Tiago Splitter, who were both out nursing injuries.
Next, the Spurs take on the Utah Jazz (6-19) at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 14.