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San Antonio Spurs thump Minnesota Timberwolves without stars, coach

By Dan Myers, The Sports Xchange   |   March 9, 2016 at 2:07 AM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Who needs three future Hall-of-Famers and one of the best coaches in NBA history?

Apparently not the San Antonio Spurs.

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With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in street clothes and coach Gregg Popovich away from the team dealing with family health issues, the Spurs got 29 points from LaMarcus Aldridge in a dominating 116-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on Tuesday.

Aldridge did it all, shooting 11 of 13 from the field, gathering in seven rebounds, dishing four assists, and blocking four shots as the Spurs blew the game open shortly before halftime.

San Antonio (54-10) won for the ninth time in 10 games and is three games behind the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA.

"The machine is a well-oiled machine," Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina said before the game. "It goes on. You try to sit at the wheel and steer and try not to mess it up. Keep it straight."

Mission accomplished.

The Spurs, who lost 99-91 to the Indiana Pacers on Monday, have not lost consecutive games this season.

"I thought guys were focused tonight," Aldridge said. "Guys came back understanding where to be better on both ends of the floor. I thought guys competed well."

San Antonio's David West scored 18 points, and Kawhi Leonard had 15.

Guard Andre Miller, who signed with the Spurs last week after being bought out by the Timberwolves on Feb. 26, started in place of Parker and compiled 13 points and five assists in 25 minutes, his longest playing stint since mid-November.

"When he was on the floor, the team was playing with poise," Messina said. "We had the patience to throw the ball inside and take advantage of that, start throwing the ball out and finding shots."

Andrew Wiggins had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who lost for the second time in as many nights. Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points and nine rebounds.

Zach LaVine scored 15 points, while Shabazz Muhammad had 11 and Tyus Jones finished with 10 off the bench for Minnesota.

Towns' lay-in with 4:26 remaining in the first half gave Minnesota a 44-43 lead. It was the last time the Wolves were on top.

San Antonio closed the first half on a 14-2 run with Aldridge scoring five points during that span, and the Spurs led 59-47 at the break.

"Everybody on the floor is a weapon at all times," Wolves rookie Tyus Jones said about the Spurs. "They all can do so many different things."

Minnesota (20-45) had the first two buckets of the second half, including a long jumper by Towns to get back to within 59-51 before the Spurs went on a 21-6 spurt.

Aldridge scored 10 points in the third quarter while Leonard and West each scored six as the Spurs opened up a 93-68 advantage after three.

San Antonio didn't let up in the final quarter, boosting its lead to 26 at one point.

"When we play teams that are big like that, with West and LaMarcus and they're just banging us down there," Wolves coach Sam Mitchell said. "Then, you have to start trapping and they have a bunch of 3-point shooters and they know how to move the ball and they know how to play."

The Spurs shot 55.3 percent (47-for-85) from the floor. Minnesota connected on 45.6 percent (36-for-79) of its attempts from the floor but committed 15 turnovers to just nine for San Antonio, including one in the first half.

"I thought our guys gutted it out. I'm proud of them," Mitchell said. "They learned [that] you have to keep digging, you still have to keep playing and playing hard and they did. We just got beat by a better team."

NOTES: Both F Tim Duncan and G Manu Ginobili were rested by the Spurs and did not play. ... Spurs G Tony Parker sat out the game with a left toe contusion. ... Timberwolves F Nemanja Bjelica, who is nearing a return from a right foot strain, remained out. ... Timberwolves F Greg Smith was active despite a toe infection. ... San Antonio returns home on Thursday to begin a five-game homestand against the Chicago Bulls. ... Minnesota will play the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena to begin a four-game road trip.

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