The Spurs, without Kawhi Leonard, won their opening day contest against the Timberwolves.
The Minnesota Timberwolves augmented their young and talented core by adding Jimmy Butler this year and coach Tom Thibodeau last year, and they’re a wild card in the deep Western Conference this season. But the ageless Spurs handled the new look Wolves easily for the most part, despite a sag in the fourth quarter that allowed the Wolves to briefly even the score.
The Spurs started quickly with Dejounte Murray scoring the first points and Pau Gasol looking sharp and hitting his shots. LaMarcus Aldridge continued his hot streak from the preseason and Manu Ginobili and Rudy Gay got into the act as the Spurs led 32-25 after one.
Tyus Jones provided some early energy for the Timberwolves in the second as they clawed their way back into the game with a 12-0 run to lead 33-32. But the Spurs struck back with a run of their own. A late surge from the Wolves led by Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague helped them narrow the gap as the Spurs led 53-49 at the half.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins provided firepower for the Pups early in the third quarter, but Murray’s tenacious defense and sneaky moves to the basket began to take a toll and the Spurs began to separate midway in the quarter. A late hustle steal by Manu Ginobili put the Spurs up 13, but Minnesota hit their late three from Nemanja Bjelica and the score after three quarters was 87-77, Spurs.
Bjelica led off the fourth quarter with a traditional three point play and the lead was down to single digits. A 11-0 run brought the Wolves to within a basket, but Kyle Anderson stemmed the bleeding with a baseline jumper. Bjelica once again scored an and-one and the big Serbian brought his team to within a point at 89-88. The Wolves eventually took a lead briefly as the Spurs continued to miss shots and Jimmy Butler hit his. Rudy Gay’s crossover bucket with just under 4 minutes left put the Spurs up 95-92. The young Pups, perhaps feeling the pressure, started to miss their shots and the Spurs finished strong
- Gasol looks great to start the season. He looks in shape after playing all summer for Spain.
- Dejounte Murray is making the most of his opportunity, and he’s also becoming a leader by speaking up in player huddles.
- Rudy Gay seems healthy. He seems like a guy who knows how to score the basketball.
- Jeff Teague had a terrific block on Kyle Anderson when it looked like he had an easy breakaway dunk. That was a great hustle play.
- LaMarcus Aldridge looked much more interested in playing basketball tonight than he looked at any point last season.
- After playing great for the time he was in, Jeff Teague sat out the fourth quarter, for no apparent reason. There’s no understanding Coach Thibs.
- Speaking of that, Thibs called a timeout with his team down by 10 with 10 seconds left, no doubt to perfect that 10 point play that they rolled out in preseason.
You know the feeling when the old band gets back together and they’re just as good as ever. Yeah, that feeling.
The Spurs meet the dysfunctional Chicago Bulls, who are now the worst team in the league, in the Windy City at 7:00 PM Saturday. Hopefully there won’t be any more Bull on Bull pandemonium before the weekend and they’ll be able to field a full team. Right now, Nikola Mirotic is out with a broken jaw and Bobby Portis is suspended 8 games for breaking it.
It was a great way to open the season, I hope you guys enjoyed it!
Source: Pounding The Rock