It took a double-digit rally in their last game for the Minnesota Timberwolves to register back-to-back wins for the first time in a month.
That victory came against the team with the worst defense in the NBA, and when Minnesota travels to take on the San Antonio Spurs and their lockdown defensive unit Friday night, it will likely need a much better performance for 48 minutes if it wants to match a season-best winning streak.
The Timberwolves (11-11) trailed Philadelphia by 19 points Wednesday before rallying to a 106-99 win. The comeback came against a 76ers team that ranks last in the league with 109.3 points allowed per game. The Spurs, on the other hand, are fourth with an average of 92.8 points allowed.
"We just had to pick up the intensity," forward Kevin Love told the Timberwolves' official website. "We felt like if we matched their intensity, we were the better team. We felt like we did that in the second half, got on a bit of a run."
Love had 26 points and 15 rebounds for his league-leading 20th double-double. The forward missed all four meetings with the Spurs last season due to various injuries, and though he has been among the best in the league since he was drafted in 2008, he still has a long way to go to be compared to the man he'll be facing Friday.
San Antonio forward Tim Duncan leads all active players with 770 career double-doubles; Love has 211.
Duncan also has put up impressive postseason numbers and won four titles, while Love has never made the playoffs. That's something the Timberwolves still want to accomplish next spring.
"We're back at .500 now," Love said. "We've got to keep this thing going, and we're going to be able to continue to get better."
The Spurs (17-4), who have lost two of three on their home floor, completed a two-game sweep of a road trip with Wednesday's 109-77 win over Milwaukee. Without center Tiago Splitter, who stayed in San Antonio to rest his tight left calf, Duncan totaled 35 points and 23 rebounds while shooting 15 of 23 in the two games.
"My shot's starting to come around a little bit," he said. "The first 20 games it hadn't been there, so I hope that it stays with me."
The Spurs held the Bucks to 34.5 percent shooting - 2 of 15 from 3-point range - and outrebounded them 52-37. They rank sixth in the NBA in defensive rebounds, grabbing 33.7 a game.
"We shot it very well in the first half and they had a tough time, and I thought our defense was really good," coach Gregg Popovich said.
Friday's meeting was supposed to be the second between these teams this season, but the first was postponed Dec. 4 because of smoke inside Mexico City Arena. A makeup date has not been announced, and the game will be played in Minneapolis.
The Spurs had won 16 consecutive home games against the Timberwolves before a 108-95 loss April 17. Minnesota is trying to win three in a row in the series for the first time since taking all four meetings in 1996-97.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved