The San Antonio Spurs finally have their top three players healthy again, but it hasn’t helped much in their last two games. Getting back on track likely won’t be a problem as they host the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have each missed time over the last six weeks because of injuries. Duncan was sidelined for four games with a sprained right ankle, Parker missed four because of a sprained left ankle and Ginobili was out five because of a sprained left index finger.
When Ginobili returned for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs’ top three scorers played a full game together for the first time since Nov. 30.
San Antonio (23-11) won that game, but has lost its last two despite having the heart of its lineup intact. The Spurs fell 130-121 in overtime at Golden State on Monday, and followed that up with a 90-80 loss at home to Detroit on Thursday. After their 17-3 start, the Spurs are a disappointing 6-8.
“We haven’t scored well, we haven’t shot the ball well but that’s going to happen from time to time we just need to keep shooting the basketball,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Duncan had 24 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in Monday’s defeat, but San Antonio gave up 16 straight points to close the first quarter and trailed the rest of the game.
“During six minutes we were outscored about 20-to-2 and we spent the night trying to climb back from that,” Popovich said. “So we played 42 and not 48 (minutes) and that’s not good enough against a team like Detroit.”
It might, however, be good enough against Minnesota (5-30), which has the league’s worst record and lost nine of its last 10 games to continue the worst start in franchise history.
The Timberwolves struggled more than usual in the first half of their 113-82 loss at Houston on Friday night, when they trailed 65-33 after two quarters.
“We didn’t show up tonight. The way we played was discouraging,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. “We got ourselves in trouble by the way we played offensively. We’re either too nice or too scared is what it looked like to me.”
Part of the team’s problems stemmed from the ineffectiveness of Al Jefferson, the centerpiece of the offseason trade that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston after 12 seasons with Minnesota. Jefferson was just 2-for-10 from the field against Houston and finished with a season-low six points. Jefferson, averaging career highs with 20.1 points and 12.0 rebounds, had just six boards Friday.
The Spurs have won six straight home games against the Timberwolves, who have gone nearly four years without a win in San Antonio. Their last victory at the AT&T Center was a 100-93 win on Jan. 14, 2004.
Overall, San Antonio has won seven of eight against Minnesota, including a 106-91 victory in the first meeting Nov. 30. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined for 68 points, while Jefferson led the Wolves with 23 points and 11 rebounds.