Spurs rout T-Wolves, avoid 8th seed in West
SAN ANTONIO (AP)—San Antonio’s 11th consecutive 50-win season will come with few—if any—postseason perks.
Keith Bogans(notes) scored 17 points and Tim Duncan(notes) had 16, and the Spurs kept some control over their playoff future in the close Western Conference race with a 133-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
The Spurs’ latest 50-win campaign leaves them one short of tying the NBA record of 12 straight by the Lakers from 1979-91. But whereas San Antonio enjoyed high playoff seeds and home-court advantages in previous years, it will start this postseason on the road.
Where exactly, the Spurs still aren’t sure.
Another big road win Wednesday in Dallas will help their cause. The Spurs are assured at least the No. 7 seed and still have a chance to reach No. 6 with a win in their regular season finale against the Mavericks—a game that could also be a playoff preview.
The Spurs dodged the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers by beating Minnesota, and thanks to Portland’s win over Oklahoma City later Monday night.
Sasha Pavlovic had 16 points for the led the Wolves (15-66), who have just one chance left to avoid tying the franchise record for fewest wins.
Minnesota’s dreadful season ends Wednesday against Detroit. If the Timberwolves don’t win, they’ll tie the 1991-92 team for worst record in the 21-year history of the franchise.
The Spurs are coming up on a fewest-victory mark of their own. Regardless of what happens Wednesday in Dallas, the Spurs (50-31) will enter the playoffs with the fewest regular-season victories over a full season since Duncan came into the league in 1997.
But there are brighter spots.
San Antonio is playing its best basketball after a plodding start. The Spurs have won 19 of 27, including victories over five division leaders in a span of a little more than two weeks.
They can make it a sweep of all six with a win Wednesday over the Mavericks, who have wrapped up the Southwest. Dallas and San Antonio could also be headed to a rematch of last season’s first-round matchup depending on how the playoff seedings shake out.
“As much as people say we had a bad season, the race is still close,” Spurs guard George Hill(notes) said. “It’s just a couple games away from other people. I think we’re ready to battle anybody in the West.”
Hill scored six points in his first game back since spraining his ankle in a win over the Lakers on April 4. His return gives the Spurs their full roster back on the eve of the playoffs, after Parker returned earlier this month from a broken hand.
After the Wolves lost for the 22nd time in 23 games, coach Kurt Rambis said he’s “sure everybody’s fairly ready” for the season to be over.
“We’ve got one game left, and I hope for them to come out and give a positive showing. Leave with a good taste in their mouths for over the summer,” Rambis said. “This team was not built to win this year. We knew that.”
Notes: The Spurs finished the regular season with a 29-12 record at home. …The Spurs are 19-2 against the Timberwolves since the 2004-05, and haven’t lost at home to Minnesota in six years. …Minnesota finished 5-36 on the road and lost their final 12 away from home.