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.

NBA Gameday: Young Kings look to kick Spurs while they are down

NBA Gameday: Young Kings look to kick Spurs while they are down

The Sacramento Kings struggled Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping their 42nd game of the season. Sunday’s task isn’t any easier as they travel to San Antonio to face the star-studded Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back.

First round pick Georgios Papagiannis had a breakout 14-point, 11-rebounds performance against the Thunder, setting new career-highs in both stats. The 19-year-old 7-footer out of Greece had played just 53 total minutes on the season before registering 22 against Steven Adams and the OKC frontline.

The Spurs are fresh off a 104-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday and they currently trail the Golden State Warriors by 2.5 games for the best record in the Western Conference. It’s a team built for a long playoff run centered around reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and big man LaMarcus Aldridge.  

OPENING LINE:
Spurs by 14.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Youth vs. Experience -- The Kings roll into the AT&T Center with three rookies and a second-year pro playing rotational minutes. While Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein have talent, they lack the experience of the Spurs veteran lineup. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have played together for the last 15 years and Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills and Danny Green have played six or more seasons in San Antonio.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 27-42, third place in Pacific

Spurs: 52-16, first place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Ben McLemore (personal) out, SG Arron Afflalo (personal) out, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Spurs: PG Dejounte Murray (groin) and SG Manu Ginobili (rest) are out.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Spurs have won nine straight over the Kings, including a 3-0 lead in the season series this year. During the Sacramento-era, San Antonio holds an 86-39 advantage and they lead the Kings 114-55 all-time.

QUOTE:
“Because I couldn’t get any playing time here, it was the best thing for me to through the whole year (in the D-League). It was a great opportunity for me. Great coaches, great players, great teammates, actually. They helped me everyday get better.” -Papagiannis on his experience with the Reno Bighorns

Spurs stumble in Memphis, drop second straight

Spurs stumble in Memphis, drop second straight

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mike Conley had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Zach Randolph added 18 points and the Memphis Grizzlies extended their winning streak to four with a 104-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

Memphis held an 89-86 lead with 5:45 left, then went on a 9-1 rally to match its biggest advantage of the game at 98-87 on a three-point play by Marc Gasol with 2:30 left.

Not long afterward, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent his reserves in.

Gasol had 16 points and seven assists for Memphis, while JaMychal Green scored 13.

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 22 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and nine rebounds. Jonathon Simmons scored 14 as San Antonio lost its second straight.

The Spurs struggled early from outside the arc and finished 9 of 28 on 3-point attempts.