SAN ANTONIO – If there is a moral victory in basketball, the Timberwolves felt like they notched one in their 112-108 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday night.
At the top of the list of things that went right is the play of Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins got off to a wretched start, missing his first shot then committing a turnover and having Rudy Gay swat another shot of his. But Wiggins steadied himself, started attacking the basket and buried a pair of open three-pointers.
The Wolves were down 11 before Wiggins regathered himself to hit those threes. With him playing better, the Wolves also played better.
"I just kept shooting, you know? I missed a couple easy ones early, but I kept shooting to get a rhythm and I felt good the whole game after that," he said.
Wiggins finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting and had six rebounds. Wiggins, who has averaged about four rebounds a game in his career, picked up the slack on the boards with Karl-Anthony Towns in foul trouble for most of the second half.
"I thought he was very aggressive," coach Tom Thibodeau said.
That aggressiveness resulted in a couple easy buckets for Wiggins, even if he still settled for midrange jumpers on some possessions. He only shot two free throws but made both of them after last year's well-documented struggles in that area.
"It's good seeing the ball going in and getting some easy touches, easy finishes around the rim," Wiggins said.
Dieng solid as well
The other bright spot for the Wolves was center Gorgui Dieng, who played 24 minutes thanks in part to Towns' foul trouble. Dieng kept the Wolves afloat with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting and five rebounds.
"Something we want to do is get to the bonus early in each quarter and so his aggressiveness was very good and I thought he put a lot of pressure on the rim," Thibodeau said. "And that opened up things for us."
• Anthony Tolliver, signed in the offseason as a three-point specialist, played 19 minutes but only had one field-goal attempt and zero from three-point range. An increased output from Tolliver could help with the Wolves' three-point shooting woes. They took and made the fewest in the NBA last season, and in Wednesday's opener they went 6-for-19 from deep while the Spurs were 11-for-25.
• The Wolves did not practice nor have media availability Thursday. After the Spurs game, Thibodeau said he wanted to review Towns' fouls before commenting further on them. Towns fouled out, including three offensive fouls, after playing only 22 minutes.
•Teammates have been telling point guard Tyus Jones to be a more aggressive shooter. That didn't go quite as planned Wednesday; Jones shot 2-for-7 and scored four points.
•Rookies Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop will have to wait until at least Friday's home opener against Cleveland to make their NBA debuts. Neither played against the Spurs.