Notebook: Timberwolves 107, Spurs 83

Posted Mar 12, 2013 11:42 PM

Peter Kapsner, for

THE FACTS: One night after dismantling one of the NBA's best, the Spurs gave one back to one of the league's worst, getting blown out 107-83 by the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. The Spurs, already without Tony Parker (ankle), left starters Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard at home nursing sore knees after each played 35 minutes in Monday's 105-93 victory over the Thunder. The Wolves, led by Ricky Rubio's first NBA triple-double, made them pay.

Rubio was brilliant throughout the night, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He regularly forced the issue on offense with dribble penetration, creating open shots that helped the Wolves to 53.7 percent shooting against the Spurs normally stingy defense. Rubio also led an energetic defense that racked up 11 blocks and six steals, and forced the Spurs into 17 turnovers, 12 of which came in the first half when the Timberwolves went on a sustained 17-minute run. Cory Joseph led the Spurs with 15 points, including nine in the fourth quarter with the game no longer in doubt.

QUOTABLE: "Minnesota was more aggressive than we were for more of the 48 minutes. They were physical. They obviously shot it very well. Both defensively and offensively they had a very good game and kicked our butt."
-- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

TURNING POINT: The Wolves looked lethargic in the opening minutes and fell behind 21-10. But they suddenly came to life after an offensive rebound by Rubio just under five minutes left in the first quarter. Rubio then found an open Luke Ridnour for a 3-pointer that started a 43-17 run highlighted by 3-pointers on three straight possessions, a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Chris Johnson, and a halftime, buzzer-beating bank shot by Rubio.

THE STAT: The Wolves, ranked 18th in the NBA in blocked shots at 4.9 a game, swatted away eight Spurs shots in the first half. Johnson, averaging 0.9 blocks a game, accounted for five of them in the second quarter alone -- one short of a Timberwolves record for blocks in a quarter.

HOT: Rubio. He continues to show last season's pre-injury play was no fluke. Coming into Tuesday, he was averaging 12.9 points, 9.3 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 steals over the past 16 games. His triple-double will further inflate those stats as he plays his way into the elite ranks of NBA point guards.

QUOTABLE II: "Obviously RIcky was terrific. He just set the tone.....just the way he plays the game. Not many point guards get 12 defensive rebounds. He is playing with such resolve trying to get us over the hump.
-- Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman

NOT: Manu Ginobili. With Parker and Duncan out, the Spurs turned to Ginobili to lead them, and even started their sixth man in the second half. But the 35-year-old looked old and slow for much of the night, shooting just 2-for-10 as he was unable to create space for either his jump shot or when driving to the rim

GOOD MOVE: Playing J.J. Barea 26 minutes off the bench. As Rubio's shooting guard for much of the night, Barea drilled 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, including 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter that helped snuff any hopes of a Spurs comeback.

BAD MOVE: Leaving the Spurs starters at home. With the Spurs fighting for the top seed in the Western Conference, they can ill afford to get beat by a team that has won only four of its last 23 games.

QUOTABLE III: "The bottom line is we played a terrible game. We are in the last 20 games of the season and we cannot let this happen again."
-- Manu Ginobli

ROOKIE WATCH: Timberwolves rookie Alexi Shved put up 16 points, seven assists, and three rebounds in 29 minutes of action one day after a major media outlet claimed he had likely "hit the rookie wall."

NOTABLE: The Timberwolves are 28th in the league in field-goal percentage at 43.1 percent. Tuesday's effort was the first time in 11 games that they shot over 50 percent.....Kevin Love is scheduled to visit a specialist in New York tomorrow to check the prognosis of his injured hand. He is hoping to be cleared the play......The Wolves victory prevented the Spurs from adding to their consecutive streak of 50-win seasons. The Spurs have accomplished this for a record 13 straight years, but remain stuck on 49 wins....... The loss puts the Spurs just 1.5 games ahead of the Thunder. The Spurs do currently own the tie-breaker, having won two of three meetings. The two teams meet for a final time on April 4th.

UP NEXT: For the Spurs, Thursday vs. Dallas, Saturday vs. Cleveland, March 20 vs. Golden State. For the Wolves, Wednesday @ Indiana, Friday @ Houston, Sunday vs. New Orleans.