Spurs rally to beat T'Wolves, keep pace with Warriors

Spurs rally to beat T'Wolves, keep pace with Warriors

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead jumper with 54 seconds to play to help the San Antonio Spurs to a 100-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for the Spurs, who remained three games behind Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio scored 35 points off of 23 turnovers by Minnesota and held off a fourth-quarter rally from the Wolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost four straight games to fade from playoff contention in the West. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points and Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 of his 18 points in the second quarter for Minnesota.

San Antonio trailed by nine at halftime, but turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter to grab control. Held to just two points in the first half, Leonard scored 12 in the third and the Spurs forced 10 turnovers by the Wolves in a 31-16 frame.

The Spurs led 88-80 midway through the fourth quarter when Leonard had to go to the bench after getting whacked in the face by Gorgui Dieng. That opened the door for the Wolves, who outscored the Spurs 8-4 while their MVP candidate was on the bench.

Wiggins threw down a big dunk in traffic to ignite the rally and Towns converted a three-point play to put the Wolves up 93-92 with 2:04 to play.

Leonard responded with an 18-foot jumper and Wiggins missed a good look on the other end that would have put Minnesota back in front.

TIP-INS:
Spurs: F David Lee did not play because of a sore left foot. Lee said he expected to be ready to go against Memphis on Thursday. ... Leonard has scored in double figures in 97 straight games, the longest streak by a Spur since David Robinson did it in 157 straight from 1994-96. ... Pau Gasol added 11 points and six boards.

Timberwolves: The team announced it will unveil its new logo on April 11. The Wolves also will get new uniforms as part of a rebrand under Nike next season.

HAMMON'S CHANCE:
Spurs assistant Becky Hammon reportedly is in the running for the women's head coaching job at Florida, and coach Gregg Popovich said she has been "an integral part of what we do and been a fantastic coach for us." Lee pronounced her "more than ready" to run a program. A former Gator, Lee said he offered his assistance to her if she had any questions about the school.

When the Spurs hired Hammon, the belief was she may one day become the first female head coach in the NBA.

"If anybody's going to do it, it would be her," Lee said. "She has a great disposition."

BJELICA UPDATE:
Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica had surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured navicular bone in his left foot. The team said the surgery went as expected, but did not put a timetable on his return.

Bjelica was injured in a game against Boston last week, removing a key bench player for a Timberwolves team lacking in depth to begin with. The Wolves signed Omri Casspi to take some of his minutes down the stretch, and he played 22 minutes in his debut on Tuesday night.

UP NEXT:
Spurs: San Antonio begins a four-game homestand on Thursday against Memphis.

Timberwolves: Minnesota starts a two-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Friday.

Report: Former Kings forward close to deal with T'Wolves

Report: Former Kings forward close to deal with T'Wolves

Omri Casspi is on the move once again.

After being waived by the Pelicans at the end of February, the former Kings forward is reportedly close to a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

News of the two sides being close to a deal was first reported by ESPN.

Casspi was part of the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway.

He appeared in just one game with the Pelicans. He played 24 minutes on Feb. 23, but broke his thumb and was waived two days later.

In 23 games between the Kings and Pelicans this season, Casspi is averaging 6.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

The Timberwolves are schedule to play in New Orleans on Sunday night.

 

NBA Gameday: Curry, Warriors need to push tempo against T'Wolves

NBA Gameday: Curry, Warriors need to push tempo against T'Wolves

Programming note: Warriors-Timberwolves coverage starts today at 4pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

The Warriors continue their quest for rediscovery Friday night, when they have the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.

The Warriors (52-12) have lost three of their last five games, including Wednesday night, when they fell apart in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics. The Kevin Durant injury hangover is real, and the Warriors are struggling to make the adjustment.

After foundering for much of the season, the Timberwolves (26-37) may be onto something. They have, for the first time this season, won five of six games, including the last three in a row. It has them among five other teams vying for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 5.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Warriors big men vs. Karl-Anthony Towns. KAT is a member of the NBA’s elite-big-men-under-25 movement. Only 21, he leads all centers in scoring (24.1 points per game) and double-doubles (48). In their attempt to contain him, the Warriors will use a variety of defenders, from Zaza Pachulia to Draymond Green to JaVale McGee to David West. The goal is to prevent Towns from putting his signature on the game.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Shaun Livingston (rest) and F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, tibial bone bruise) are listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Timberwolves: G/F Brandon Rush (illness) is listed as probable. G Zach LaVine (L knee surgery) and C Nikola Pekovic (Chronic R ankle pain) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 6-4. Timberwolves: 6-4.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have 22 of the last 26 overall and 10 in a row in Minneapolis.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

CONTRAST IN SIZES: The Warriors prefer to play small because that’s where they have the most success. The Wolves, however, are long and athletic. The season-ending injury to LaVine moved 6-7, 215-pound Brandon Rush into starting lineup; he’s expected to play. Up front are 6-8, 200-pound Andrew Wiggins, 6-11 Gorgui Dieng and Towns, who is 7 feet. Unable to match such length, the Warriors will be forced to rely on scrap and getting into transition.

THE TRIPLES GAME: The Warriors, who rank third in 3-point shooting percentage, are slumping: 30.7 percent over the last seven games. The T-Wolves have been one of the league’s worst teams beyond the arc all season, shooting 34.9 percent to rank 22nd. With Minny ranking 15th in 3-point defense, this is an opportunity for the Warriors to find their splash game.

THE PACE GAME: Though the T-Wolves are young, coach Tom Thibodeau has them playing mostly deliberate basketball; they rank 25th in pace. That helps keep games close. The Warriors want to run whenever possible, regardless of circumstances, so it’ll be up to Stephen Curry and the bench to push tempo in hopes of lulling Minny out of its comfort zone.