MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Under coach Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs have been consistent winners. That includes when they go on the road — and anywhere they play the Minnesota Timberwolves.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points, Rudy Gay added 22 and the Spurs held on to give Popovich another milestone victory in a 116-113 win against the Timberwolves on Friday night.
Popovich earned his 520th career win on the road, tying Pat Riley for the most in NBA history.
“We got through some stuff and it’s always good to win on the road,” Popovich said. “It’s always difficult to do, but when you do it feels pretty good.”
The win also continued San Antonio’s mastery of Minnesota. The Spurs have won 16 of the past 18 games between the teams. San Antonio is 59-25 in the series since Popovich took over as coach for the 1996-97 season.
Marco Belinelli added 19 points off the bench for San Antonio, which played without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan because of left ankle soreness.
“Coach Pop said don’t think about it and play basketball, and we’ve got to win the game no matter what,” forward Davis Bertans said.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points for the Timberwolves but fouled out after only 21 minutes. Derrick Rose chipped in 23 points and Taj Gibson added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota.
Another matchup between the familiar foes was tight throughout, with 27 lead changes and 17 ties. It also featured a heavy dose of fouls on both sides. The teams combined for 53 personal fouls and 67 free throws.
“We’re a no-excuse team,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “We made our own mistakes at times. We had opportunities to win. So, there’s nothing on the officials.”
Towns picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, and again went to the bench. Josh Okogie had six points and Jeff Teague added five as Minnesota used a 14-1 run to take a 77-67 lead.
The Spurs responded with a 13-2 spurt of their own as Bertans hit a pair of 3-pointers.
“We had a 10-point lead. We didn’t close out the show,” Towns said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do to come out with a win. That’s the disappointing thing about tonight. That’s our next step in maturation of our team.”
The Wolves led 90-88 to start the fourth, but Bertans opened the quarter with another 3. San Antonio led by seven in the fourth, but Minnesota clawed back within one with 30.3 seconds left on Rose’s layup.
Belinelli hit two free throws and Rose’s 3 at the buzzer was off the mark.
Spurs: Popovich is third in NBA history with 1,224 wins overall. He passed Jerry Sloan for third place on Jan. 10. … San Antonio entered 4-17 this season when trailing after three quarters.
Timberwolves: Tyus Jones missed the game with a left ankle sprain sustained Tuesday at Philadelphia. Robert Covington missed his eighth straight game with a right knee bone bruise. Andrew Wiggins passed Sam Mitchell for second place on the franchise’s career scoring list. Wiggins has 7,174 points. Kevin Garnett is first with 19,201 points in a Wolves uniform. After scoring his 10,000th career point on Tuesday, Rose got his 3,000th assist on Friday. Minnesota announced that Jerry Sichting was hired as an assistant coach. It is Sichting’s third stint with the Wolves. He spent 10 years with the team from 1995-2005 and two seasons from 2007-09.
ON THE MEND
DeRozan said he expects to play Sunday “without a doubt” even though he’s “a little banged up.”
“I pride myself in not missing a practice, not missing a game,” he said. “When you play a lot of minutes, a lot of things accumulate that you’ve got to deal with, so it was kind of good just to get a rest. Don’t play until Sunday, get some treatment. So, a couple days for me is going to be big.”
DeRozan began the day 20th in the league in points per game (21.7) and 13th in assists (6.4).
It was the sixth time Towns has fouled out this season, and the second time against San Antonio. He entered tied for first in the NBA in fouls per game at 3.8
“I’m going to save my money because whatever I say won’t change anything,” Towns said.
Spurs: Return home against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Timberwolves: Host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
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