Preview: Wolves vs. Spurs

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves look to deal the San Antonio Spurs their first road loss.
WPPROD

The San Antonio Spurs have not lost a road game all season — although that streak was certainly put to the test Monday in Milwaukee.

Thanks to a big second half, the Spurs (17-4) erased a first-half deficit and edged the Bucks, 97-96, to improve to an impressive 12-0 away from San Antonio. The Spurs’ road winning streak will be on the line once again Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

For whatever reason, San Antonio is playing much better basketball on the road — the Spurs are just 5-4 at AT&T Center this year.

The reason why his team is barely .500 at home despite remaining perfect on the road has escaped head coach Gregg Popovich.

“If I knew, we wouldn’t lose,” Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News.

San Antonio’s lineup Tuesday will be worth watching as Popovich tries to keep his players healthy during a stretch of four games in seven days. There’s a chance some players may be given rest against a Minnesota team that is just 6-15 on the season.

Veteran guard Tony Parker returned to San Antonio’s lineup Monday against Milwaukee after missing two games with a thigh contusion. In total, 13 Spurs players saw the court in Monday’s narrow road victory.

The young Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday with a win over Charlotte. To make it two straight wins, the Wolves and coach Tom Thibodeau will have to top one of the best teams in the NBA.

Minnesota has struggled to close out games this year, seeing many second-half leads disappear. That wasn’t the case Saturday against Charlotte, however, as the Wolves escaped with a 125-120 overtime victory.

Saturday’s win allowed Minnesota to let out a sigh of relief after losing seven games in an eight-game stretch.

“I haven’t smiled like that and felt that good in a while,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday. “(Tuesday) was an amazing day. I haven’t had a day like that. A lot of smiles, happy.”

Towns was a big reason for Minnesota’s sixth win of the year. The second-year big man had 27 points and 15 rebounds, including six points in overtime. It was his 11th double-double of the year, tied for eighth most in the league.

As the early-season losses have piled for the Wolves, Towns has tried to shoulder much of the blame on his own — even though he’s hardly the reason for Minnesota’s inability to string together wins. In 20 games so far this year, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is averaging a double-double: 22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

Given how hard Towns has been on himself, Saturday’s win was particularly satisfying.

“The way we’re losing, not getting blown out but making mental errors late in the game, it hurt us. It hurts me, especially,” Towns told the Star Tribune. “To have a win like that, I’m finally able to smile, laugh a lot more and have my spirits up.”