MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Andrew Wiggins kept up his early season surge with 30 points on 12-for-23 shooting, and the Minnesota Timberwolves handed the San Antonio Spurs their third straight loss, 129-114 on Wednesday night.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, giving Minnesota’s maximum-contract duo a third consecutive game with 25-plus points apiece. Towns and Wiggins are currently the only teammates in the NBA averaging more than 25 points per game.
Wiggins, who added eight rebounds and seven rebounds, drained a pull-up 3-pointer from the left wing in the waning seconds of the third quarter to give the Wolves their biggest lead of the night at 106-95 before they breezed through the final 12 minutes. Wiggins, who has shown a sharp improvement in shot selection under coach Ryan Saunders, received a standing ovation when he was removed late in the game.
DeMar DeRozan had 27 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points for San Antonio, with the two stars combining to shoot 22 for 34 from the floor, but the Spurs finished just 3 for 17 from 3-point range.
The Spurs, with Tony Parker’s jersey now hanging from their arena rafters next to Tim Duncan’s and Manu Ginobili’s, are well past the glory days of their five NBA championships, but they still, of course, have Gregg Popovich in charge. With the 70-year-old winningest coach in NBA history on the bench and DeRozan and Aldridge in the lineup, though, they’re hardly a pushover, even though Popovich lamented their “really soft” defense after a 135-115 defeat against Boston last week. The Spurs entered this game ranked just 21st in the league in average points against.
They weren’t exactly overflowing with intensity on the defensive end in this one, either, squandering a strong start to the second half while watching the Wolves pull away for the third consecutive quarter. Bryn Forbes missed a 3-pointer that would have broken an 83-all tie, and Jake Layman, who was continually slashing to the basket all game, dropped in a finger roll for a lead the Wolves never relinquished. DeRozan picked up a technical foul after arguing a personal foul against him, and the free throws helped the Wolves on their way.
Spurs: For the third time in 11 games this season, the Spurs allowed 120-plus points. ... DeRozan and Aldridge each hit the 20-point mark for the second game this season. They did that 24 times during the 2018-19 regular season.
Timberwolves: Teague, who missed the last four games because of illness, returned to action in a reserve role, with rookie Jarrett Culver in the starting lineup at point guard for a fourth time in five games. Teague had 18 points and six assists in 23 minutes. ... Backups power forward Jordan Bell (sprained right shoulder) and point guard Shabazz Napier (sprained right hamstring) each had their fifth straight absence.
WINNING WITH WIGGINS
Towns and Wiggins have 35 games with 25-plus points apiece, the fourth-most in the NBA since Towns was a rookie in 2015-16. Wiggins hit the 30-point mark for the fourth time in five games.
The Timberwolves have been trying to sharpen their 3-point shooting for years, and thanks in part to a 6-for-45 performance from behind the arc on Sunday in an overtime defeat against Denver, they entered this game ranked third-worst in the league at 30.8%.
A few minutes after Towns and San Antonio’s Rudy Gay were given double technical fouls for their testy exchange, sparked when Gay fouled Towns while he was shooting, Towns and Wiggins swished 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to break a tie and give the Timberwolves a 57-51 lead. They were 15 for 34 from 3-point range at Detroit in their last game, a season best.
The Spurs have won the season series in 22 of 30 years since the Timberwolves entered the NBA, with five ties, for an overall record of 89-30. This was the first of four meetings this season.
Spurs: Play at Orlando on Friday night. They have a 43-18 lead in the all-time series with the Magic.
Timberwolves: Host Washington on Friday night, then Houston on Saturday night to conclude a stretch with five home games, and six total, in eight days.