“Sad day 4 me,” is what San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili tweeted after the Spurs lost their second road game of the season 106-96 to the Minnesota Timberwolves (2-3) in Minneapolis on Monday.
It indeed was a sad day for Spurs coaches, players, fans, and Ginobili himself as Ginobili has been diagnosed with a broken bone (fifth metacarpal) in his left hand when he tried to make a steal at an Anthony Tolliver drive to the basket with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter of the game.
Tolliver came through the middle of paint and Ginobili quickly stuck his left hand in the protected area, after a foul was called on him, Ginobili immediately walked off the court and onto the sideline in pain and holding his left hand.
The news was released midway through the third quarter that Ginobili had a broken bone and after the game, more news revealed that he will be expected to miss four to six weeks.
“We just have to deal with it,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the loss.
Minnesota was coming off a 17-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday and into their second night of a back-to-back game against the Spurs. Most teams shooting would decrease on the second night of a back-to-back, but not the Timberwolves.
The Spurs started with the first seven points of the first quarter behind Tim Duncan, but the Timberwolves finished with the last seven points of the quarter and a 35-25 lead behind Kevin Love’s 13 points. Minnesota hit 4-of-5 (80%) three pointers while the Spurs shot 1-of-4 from distance.
Minnesota’s hot shooting continued as the team scored 31-points in the second quarter, though the Spurs scored as well with 34-points of their own. The Timberwolves shot 7-8 (88%) from behind the arc in the first half and 68% from the field while the Spurs shot 54% in the first half. Richard Jefferson led the Spurs with 16 points at halftime while Love was still on a tear with 15 points of his own.
The first half of Minnesota’s shooting wasn’t a fluke; the Wolves continued to shoot at a high rate by shooting 68% from the field, and 11-of-14 from three-point range in the third quarter. The Wolves finally scored under 30 points in the third quarter, but they went into the fourth quarter with a 94-80 lead.
Minnesota’s shooting slightly went down a notch as they finished the game shooting 58% from the field and 57% from behind the arc. The Spurs outscored the Timberwolves 16-12 in the fourth quarter and even got the lead down to 10 points midway through the quarter, but in the end, Love (24 points, 15 rebounds), Michael Beasley (19 points), and Luke Ridnour (19 points) were too much for the Ginobili-less Spurs.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” said coach Popovich after the game. The Spurs would make small runs here and there, but the Timberwolves would always have an answer to push the lead back up to 12-to-15 points.
With the loss, the Spurs fall to 3-2 on the season. Things don’t get easier as they still have four games in six days as they face the Golden State Warriors Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks Thursday, and the Denver Nuggets Saturday all at home. Then, they’ll play in Oklahoma City on Sunday against the Thunder.
The loss of Ginobili will make a major impact on the Spurs are they’re now down to one shooting guard in second year player James Anderson.
“The next guy in line starts,” said Popovich after the game, “James Anderson starts.” With rehabbing guard Gary Neal assigned to the Austin Toros earlier on Monday, the team will be looking from production from its young players in Anderson and rookie Kawhi Leonard.
Analyzing the Loss
- The Spurs still need some work on defense in rotations on perimeter shooters, but a lot of the Timberwolves’ shots just went in regardless if they were open or being covered. It was one of those bizarre games where a team made almost everything they shot. The Timberwolves connected on 41-of-71 shots and 12 of their 21 three pointers. The Timberwolves also scored over 30-points in two quarters, something they didn’t do Sunday against the Mavericks at all.
- The Spurs took care of the ball with only nine turnovers to the Timberwolves’ 19 turnovers and the Spurs still lost by double-digits.
- All five of the Timberwolves starters scored in double figures while only three members of the Spurs’ starting five scored in double-digits with Duncan and Richard Jefferson leading the team with 16 points and Tony Parker chipping in with 11 points. An interesting note is that Jefferson went scoreless in the second half.
- Tiago Splitter had another strong game with 12 points and one block, while DeJuan Blair cooled off with six points and just three rebounds.
- One has to wonder if Parker is starting to feel the effects of playing basketball continuously in the offseason and NBA lockout. Parker went 3-of-11 in the game and has only made 24-of-his-61 shots this season. The Spurs are going to need All-Star level production from him with Ginobili about to miss some time. To be fair, Parker’s passing numbers are increasing as he had nine assists against Minnesota.
- Spanish rookie sensation Ricky Rubio had six points and three assists but he made two top plays as he fed an alley-oop dunk to teammate Derrick Williams in the second quarter and even blocked a Danny Green fast break layup in the third quarter.
Rookie Kawhi Leoanrd scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, and had two steals in 17 minutes for the Spurs. Rookie Cory Joseph was the only Spurs player who didn’t see any action.
To the left is a visual image (jasonpirozzolo.com) of the broken bone Ginobili has suffered in his injury.