GameDay Blog: Wolves at Spurs - Jan. 13, 2013




Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: The Timberwolves fall 106-88 tonight in San Antonio. For full analysis, highlights and photos from tonight's game, check back to Timberwolves.com throughout the night. SAS 106, MIN 88

Q4 2:51: The Spurs are 5-of-10 this half from 3-point range, and it's really made a difference late in this one. Minnesota couldn't find a way to recover from San Antonio's fourth quarter run, and it's turned into an 18-point game with less than three minutes to play. SAS 104, MIN 86

Q4 5:28: A couple developments here in the last few minutes. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was sent to the locker room early with a double technical foul after Tiago Splitter picked up a foul on J.J. Barea. But it hasn't seemed to matter much, as the Spurs have opened up a 99-80 lead here with 5:28 left in the fourth. Really strong effort from the Wolves through most of the first three quarters tonight, but they seem to be wearing down late in this one. It's Minnesota basketball as we come out of the timeout. SAS 99, MIN 80

Q4 9:04: All of a sudden the Spurs are on a 10-4 run to start the fourth, and they've opened up a 13-point lead here with 9:04 to play. Minnesota needs a spark here and a way to stop a San Antonio squad that has come alive from 3-point range. The next three minutes will be telling on whether or not Minnesota can trim this lead back down. SAS 88, MIN 75

End Q3: The Wolves trail by seven as we begin the fourth here in San Antonio. Minnesota is getting the majority of its scoring contributions from Nikola Pekovic's 14, Luke Ridnour's 13, Dante Cunningham's 11 and J.J. Barea's 10. Tony Parker has 20 for the Spurs. Game On. SAS 78, MIN 71

Q3 2:54: This is a fun game here tonight in San Antonio, back and forth runs after each timeout. One thing to watch for here tonight is whether or not ageless Tim Duncan can grab a triple-double. He's got 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks so far tonight in 26 minutes of play. We've got a little over a quarter left to see if he can got the rest of the way. SAS 70, MIN 64

Q3 5:09: J.J. Barea just drove past Tim Duncan and scored to bring this one back to a seven-point game. Minnesota had trimmed it to 55-54, but the Spurs then went on an 11-0 run before Dante Cunningham broke the scoreless drought. Now Minnesota is looking to close the gap once again with Ridnour and Barea in the back court, AK, DC and Pek up front. SAS 66, MIN 59

Halftime: Well, the Timberwolves withstood a couple runs in that first half and really put themselves in position to make a run at this game in the second half. They trail by 5 at halftime. The problem is over the past two games Minnesota has really struggled to get into a rhythm in the second half and ended up really losing momentum quickly. They'll need a strong start in the third to combat that tonight. They'll also need to begin controlling the paint. Minnesota's strength is down low, but the Spurs have done a good job penetrating with Parker and Ginobili and getting high-percentage shots. They currently hold a 38-16 edge. But Minnesota has seven offensive rebounds and is moving the ball well--the Wolves have 13 assists on 18 field goals. That's going to remain key in the second half. Overall, very good half considering they're down just five against the Spurs team that is on an 11-game home winning streak and is 15-2 at home.

Nikola Pekovic has 10 points at the half, while Dante Cunningham and Luke Ridnour each have eight points and J.J. Barea and Derrick Williams each have six. For the Spurs, Parker has 14 and Ginobili has 12. Funny story from pregame, by the way: Terry Porter finished his career with the Spurs, and he played with Parker during his rookie season. When asked if he could tell Parker would be a special player, Porter laughed and said, "Yeah, I saw a lot of the back of his jersey" during practice. Four All-Star appearances and three championships later, turns out Parker has had a nice little career here in the heart of Texas. SAS 55, MIN 50

Q2 2:31: This is a game of runs right now, folks. Every time San Antonio opens up the game a bit, Minnesota comes right back and cuts the lead down again. The Wolves just cut the lead back down to three after AK fed Pek down in the post and Luke Ridnour hit a pull-up jumper. SAS 50, MIN 47

Q2 5:57: Just when you think the Wolves are about to close the gap, the Spurs find a way to extend the lead back. Minnesota went on 10-2 run to make it 38-35 just moments ago, but San Antonio responded in kind and opened up a 42-35 lead capped off by a full-court pass from Tim Duncan to Patty Mills. Wolves ball inbounding here momentarily. SAS 42, MIN 35

Q2 8:48: J.J. Barea made his debut tonight to begin the second quarter, and Lazar Hayward, who missed the New Orleans game with illness, has also made an appearance in the game. But the Wolves trail by 11 right now because the Spurs are 13-of-17 after a 3-of-10 start from the field. They're capitalizing on turnovers, and they're holding a 30-10 advantage in the paint right now. SAS 36, MIN 25

End Q1: After a hot start from the field the Wolves ran into a tightened up Spurs defense midway through the first quarter, and after 1 San Antonio leads 24-21. The Spurs finished the first quarter on a 17-5 run thanks to Minnesota not being able to finish at the basket. The Wolves went 1-for-12 at one stretch during the Spurs' run. Dante Cunningham has eight points to lead all Minnesota scorers, while Pekovic and Ridnour each have four. AK has five rebounds. For the Spurs, Parker has 10 points and Ginobili has eight. SAS 24, MIN 21

Q1 2:44: Rubio was the first substitution of the night for the Wolves, entering the game at about the 4 minute mark for Luke Ridnour. But over the past three minutes the Spurs have made their first run of the night. They're currently on an 8-1 run that brings them to within 17-15 here with 2:44 to play in the first. Meanwhile, as the Wolves talk things over during a timeout J.J. Barea is doing a little light jogging in place to help keep his lower back loose. He isn't checking in yet, but we should get a look at him shortly for the first time since facing Atlanta on Tuesday. MIN 17, SAS 15

Q1 5:44: The Wolves have had strong offensive starts over their last two road losses so it's early to be analyzing, but the Wolves are off to a fast start here in San Antonio with a 16-7 lead midway through the first. That's promising, especially their 8-of-12 shooting performance early on, because this is a dangerous Spurs team. They've already forced three turnovers in the first six minutes. But they won't be able to keep the Spurs shooting at a 3-of-10 clip all night, so they'll need to continue with solid ball movement and take advantage of Pekovic inside. And against a San Antonio team that's won 11 straight games at home, getting some help from 3-point range would be a bonus. MIN 16, SAS 7

Starters:

Wolves: PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Alexey Shved, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Dante Cunningham, C-Nikola Pekovic

Spurs: PG-Tony Parker, SG-Danny Green, SF-Kawhi Leonard, PF-Tim Duncan, C-Tiago Splitter

Pregame 5:50 PM: Timberwolves guard JJ Barea is back with the team tonight in San Antonio and will play against the Spurs with tipoff coming at the top of the hour.

Barea missed the last two games with back spasms, and he departed Oklahoma City earlier this week to see a doctor in Dallas. He said he has been feeling discomfort in his back for a couple weeks, when he woke up in Oklahoma City after the Atlanta game he was additionally stiff and wanted to seek treatment.

He had an MRI done as well as an epidural injection in Dallas, and he said immediately he began feeling better.

I feel great—woke up that day in Oklahoma and couldn’t even move,” Barea said. “Now I’m back to almost normal. It’s good to be back.”

The Wolves are happy to have him.

With Barea out, Minnesota essentially had three healthy guards in New Orleans as Lazar Hayward missed the game due to illness. They’ve been creative with their rotations, even having Derrick Williams take some time in the 2-guard role.

With Barea back, that will help add some more minutes to a back court that is logging significant minutes right now—Alexey Shved played 36 minutes and Luke Ridnour played 34 minutes in New Orleans. Guard Ricky Rubio is still on a 24-minute limit.

“We need everybody—I was watching the games, and we’re a little bit short-handed last game,” Barea said. “So hopefully I can provide a little bit of energy off the bench tonight.”

Wolves coach Terry Porter said he hasn’t seen Barea practice so he doesn’t know how his body will react in-game, but the more bodies available to help keep legs fresh, the better. Particularly against this back court tonight, where the Spurs will be led by Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

Not to mention Barea’s scoring production. Rookie Alexey Shved said one of the things Barea brings on a nightly basis is the ability to score in bunches.

“He can make 12, 14 points in a row easily,” Shved said. “He can help us tonight, emotional and physical.”

Porter agreed.

“We kid him around a lot—he’s our best 5-8 finisher we have,” Porter said. “His ability to get to the basket, his ability to finish over giants in the land of the giants.”


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