After the San Antonio Spurs scored the last eight points of the game to beat the Timberwolves 100-93 at Target Center on Tuesday, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau once again bemoaned his team's lack of discipline down the stretch.
After watching the tape a day later, he had to admit there was more to like than he thought.
"I liked the way we came back to get the lead again," said Thibodeau, talking about a 7-0 run — capped by Karl-Anthony Towns' three-point play — that put the Wolves up 93-92 with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left. "We made a lot of tough plays. But again, you look at it, and say, 'Here are the things we have to correct.' "
Tuesday followed a familiar theme — the Wolves lost another game after holding a lead of 10 or more points. They led by 12 late in the first half, only to have a defensive breakdown allow the Spurs a three-pointer just before halftime. The Wolves led by 11 early in the third quarter before an onslaught of fouls, turnovers and breakdowns allowed the Spurs to end the quarter up six. It was the 18th time this season the Wolves lost a game in which they held a lead of 10 or more points, a league high.
"We knew the pressure would be great," Thibodeau said. "That's a team fighting for the best record in the league. It's a great team."
Still, there were so many mistakes. For example, Thibodeau was fine with Andrew Wiggins taking an open 17-footer relatively early in the shot clock with 37 seconds left and the Wolves down one, a shot he missed. But Thibodeau questioned Kris Dunn's foul on Pau Gasol after Gasol grabbed the rebound, then made two free throws.
"If that shot goes in, it's probably a different outcome," Thibodeau said. "But we have to understand there are 37 seconds left. We don't have to foul in that situation. There is time to get a stop and come back and still have an opportunity to tie or win the game. There are a lot of things that go into it."
Omri Casspi played 21½ minutes in his Wolves debut Tuesday. Playing for the first time in about a month, he made both his shots, including a three-pointer, and scored five points. But he also had five turnovers. Still, Thibodeau said he liked the way Casspi played with the second unit.
"I thought our second unit, in the second quarter, played great," Thibodeau said.
The group of Towns with reserves Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad, Casspi and Tyus Jones were all plus-10 or better in the second quarter, in which the Wolves outscored San Antonio 28-17.