SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has spent 25 years preaching that the Spurs need a solid 48-minute effort if they want a chance of winning.
Well, 12 good minutes was all it took to pull out a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and San Antonio rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Minnesota 111-108 on Wednesday night.
“They hung in,” Popovich said. “It shows a lot of good character. You get down. We lost the last two games. We haven’t played well. We got down again, but they kept plugging away, and that’s impressive to me.”
Jakob Poeltl added 19 points and Dejounte Murray had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Malik Beasley scored 29 points and D’Angelo Russell added 20 for Minnesota, which was outscored 32-18 in the final quarter. The Timberwolves dropped to 1-9 on the road this season.
The Spurs won for the first time when trailing by 15 or more points at any time in the game. San Antonio trailed until the final four minutes, closing the game on a 30-11 run.
“We just fought,” Murray said. “You like to see that fight from the whole unit, whoever is on the floor.”
After dropping its previous two games against Memphis, San Antonio finished 4-3 in what became a seven-game homestand due to a postponement at New Orleans.
The Spurs were without veteran forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay, who were both sidelined with hip injuries.
Aldridge’s absence enabled Poeltl to make his 50th career start and his 46th with the Spurs. Poeltl’s presence proved key in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs went on a 22-7 run to open the fourth quarter and take their first lead at 101-99 on Poeltl’s layup with 4:16 remaining. Poeltl and DeRozan combined to score the remaining Spurs points to seal the win.
DeRozan fueled the run when he was fouled on a powerful one-handed dunk. His ensuing free throw pulled San Antonio within 99-93 with 6:29 left.
“Just didn’t want to lose,” DeRozan said. “First three quarters were embarrassing, frustrating. We just had to buckle down in the fourth quarter and just lay it down.”
The Timberwolves entered the game having lost eight of their previous 10, but quickly built momentum.
Minnesota had four players score in taking a 12-6 lead five minutes into the game. Minnesota was 4 for 8 on 3-pointers in the opening quarter and finished 13 for 32 overall.
San Antonio has trailed by 10 points in 59% of its games this season and was 0-8 this season when trailing by 15 points or more.
Timberwolves: Minnesota is 10-52 against the Spurs in San Antonio. … The Timberwolves have two of their three most productive opening quarters against the Spurs. Minnesota matched a season high with 34 points against San Antonio on Jan. 9 and came within a point of matching that mark on Wednesday.
Spurs: Aldridge missed the game with a right hip flexor and soreness in that hip. Gay sat with a left hip flexor and tightness in that hip. … Rookie guard Devin Vassell joined Tony Parker as the only players in franchise history with 20-plus 3-pointers and 20-plus steals in his first 20 games with the Spurs. ... The Spurs play their first road game since Jan. 20 when they face Houston on Saturday. San Antonio was scheduled to play Jan. 25 in New Orleans, but the game was canceled due to health and safety protocols with the Pelicans.
Timberwolves: Continue five-game road trip Friday at Oklahoma City.
Spurs: At Houston Rockets on Saturday.