San Antonio will have to call on all its considerable depth when it squares off against the rested and ready Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The Spurs return home with little rest after a late night and a later flight after beating New Orleans 101-98 in overtime on Friday. It was the sixth straight victory for San Antonio, which is now just two and a half games behind Golden State for the best record in the NBA and the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Spurs have now held opponents to less than 100 points in 32 of their 60 games this season.
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San Antonio (47-13) missed 13 consecutive 3-point shot attempts through the second half and overtime until Paul Gasol hit from behind the arc in the first minute of the extra period and Patty Mills poured in two straight 3-pointers, with the second one giving the Spurs a 100-96 lead with 1:14 to play.
The Spurs won despite missing a combined nine free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime thanks to 31 points from Kawhi Leonard and 21 points and 15 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge. It was the 21st time this season that Leonard scored 30-plus points in a game.
With Leonard and Aldridge both playing 40 minutes on Friday and Danny Green and Pau Gasol seeing more than 36 minutes of action, don’t be surprised to see some of those players rested by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich on Saturday.
That opens the door for rookie guard Dejounte Murray to get more playing time. The Spurs rarely miss a beat when they turn to their reserves to give their front-line players a breather.
“Everybody here does a great job keeping confidence in one another and holding each other accountable,” Murray said. “That’s really important for how we play here. As a player, being in the best league, you want to be in there in all the times that count.”
Minnesota heads to the Alamo City with a two-game road winning streak, the latest an impressive 107-80 victory at Utah on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves recorded their biggest winning margin ever versus Utah as Karl-Anthony Towns scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins tallied 15 of his 20 points before halftime as Minnesota never let Utah get closer than 15 points in the second half.
“It’s just the discipline,” Towns said after the win at Utah. “We’re executing no matter what happens. We’re sticking to our principles, and that’s a sign of a team growing.”
The Timberwolves (25-36) have won four of their past five games. Utah is the fourth opponent in the past seven games that Minnesota managed to hold under 90 points.
“I feel like we want it more,” Wiggins said. “We want to play defense more. We been doing a lot in practice (and) shootaround, going through it. I think it’s muscle memory now, starting to kick in.”
The Spurs have won both the meetings between the two teams this season and have beaten Minnesota nine straight times, including six in a row at the AT&T Center since a 108-95 Timberwolves victory on April 17, 2013.