SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Boban Marjanovic also scored 17 and the San Antonio Spurs remained undefeated at home by holding off the tenacious Minnesota Timberwolves 101-95 on Monday night.
San Antonio joined the 1978 Portland Trail Blazers and 1986 Houston Rockets as the only Western Conference teams to open a season 18-0 at home.
The Spurs had six players in double figures and overcame coach Gregg Popovich’s early ejection.
Popovich was thrown out with 1:13 remaining in the first half on two successive technical fouls following a non-call on LaMarcus Aldridge.
Official Lauren Holtkamp assessed the first after Popovich was screaming at her as he walked to the baseline in front of the Spurs bench. The initial technical caused Popovich to storm onto the court, where he was restrained under the basket by his assistants as he continued yelling and pointing at Holtkamp.
The tirade led James Capers to call a second technical and eject Popovich.
With veteran star Tim Duncan sitting out due to a sore right knee, the Spurs (27-6) needed another big man to step up and Marjanovic did.
Marjanovic sparked two key runs for San Antonio, going 7 for 7 from the field and 3 of 4 on free throws in 15 minutes.
Minnesota raced out to an 18-6 lead by distributing the ball before San Antonio’s defense could fully set. Every Timberwolves starter had four points in the opening run except for Ricky Rubio, who had two points and five assists.
Marjanovic sparked a 15-5 run bridging the first and second quarters.
The 7-foot-3 rookie created a jump ball by standing over Gorgui Dieng with his arms outstretched and waited for the 6-11 center to jump and put the ball into his hands. Marjanovic won the ensuing jump ball, which led to a 3-pointer by Manu Ginobili.
Marjanovic had nine points in the third as the Spurs rallied to take a 76-72 lead after trailing by as many as seven points in the quarter.
Aldridge was held to six points, but David West had 11 points while starting in place of Duncan and Ginobili added 13.
Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 18 points, going 8 for 18 while primarily being guarded by Leonard. Tayshaun Prince, Kevin Garnett and Karl-Anthony Towns each had 10 points. Towns added 12 rebounds.
Timberwolves: Minnesota is 3-12 after starting the season 8-8. After holding opponents to 101.1 points per game in reaching .500, the Timberwolves were allowing five more points a game in their previous 14 entering Monday.
Spurs: Duncan missed his first game this season due to injury. He was a late scratch with soreness in his right knee. Duncan has missed four previous games due to rest. … San Antonio’s best start after 33 games was 29-4 in 2011.