Spurs not where they want to be, despite win

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard shoots the ball over Minnesota Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns at the AT&T Centre. He finished with 34 points, becoming the first Spurs player to score 30-plus points in four straight games since Tim Duncan in Janua
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard shoots the ball over Minnesota Timberwolves centre Karl-Anthony Towns at the AT&T Centre. He finished with 34 points, becoming the first Spurs player to score 30-plus points in four straight games since Tim Duncan in January 2004.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN ANTONIO • Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 as the San Antonio Spurs shrugged off a ragged first three quarters to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-114 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday.

Leonard's rebound and rush down the court for a dunk over two Minnesota defenders with 7min 36sec to play highlighted a 20-2 run for San Antonio that turned a 90-83 deficit into a 103-92 lead.

The forward has 12 games of 30 or more points this season and has reached that mark in four consecutive contests. He is also the first Spurs player to score 30-plus points in four straight games since Tim Duncan in January 2004.

Tony Parker added 14 points for San Antonio (32-9) and Patty Mills had 11 points. The Spurs' bench outscored Minnesota's reserves 37-21.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (14-28) with 27 points and 16 rebounds at the AT&T Centre, while Ricky Rubio added 21 points and 14 assists, Zach LaVine had 18 points, Gorgui Dieng scored 17, Shabazz Muhammad poured in 15 and Andrew Wiggins had 10.

Minnesota utilised only eight players in the game and six of them scored in double figures.

The Timberwolves ran their lead to eight points in the third quarter and looked comfortable after Towns' three-pointer at the 1:40 mark had Minnesota up 90-83. But the Spurs woke up, scoring the final nine points of the quarter including a four-point play by Leonard with 38.6 seconds to play. That saw San Antonio head into the fourth quarter up 92-90.

A lay-up by David Lee gave the Spurs a 94-90 lead with 10:50 to play in regulation - their biggest of the game up to that point - and San Antonio just wore down the Timberwolves for the rest of the game.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was not too pleased with his team's performance.

"We're not where we want to be. That's all I know," he told ESPN. "And no team are where they want to be. Maybe Golden State. But the rest of us are trying to get there."

Leonard agreed with him.

"We've still got a lot of work to do. I think we could rebound the basketball a little better and also get our one-on-one defence better as well."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Spurs not where they want to be, despite win'. Print Edition | Subscribe