Minnesota Timberwolves (9-8) vs. Spurs (6-12)
When, where: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., AT&T Center
All-time series record: Spurs lead 89-31
Last season: Spurs won 3-1
Season series: Wolves lead 1-0
Last meeting: Wolves 129, Spurs 114, Nov. 13, Minneapolis
Wolves' last game: Beat Hawks 125-113, Monday, Atlanta
Spurs' last game: Lost to Los Angeles Lakers 114-104, Monday, AT&T Center
Wolves' last 10 games/streak: 5-5, won one
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 1-9, lost one
Wolves' injury/inactive report: Guard/forward Treveon Graham (left forearm; contusion), probable; forward Jake Layman (left toe; sprain), out; guard Jordan McLaughlin (G League), out; guard Shabazz Napier (right hamstring; strain), doubtful; guard Jaylen Nowell (G League), out; guard Josh Okogie (left knee; soreness), probable; center/forward Naz Reid (G League), out.
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League), out; guard/forward Keldon Johnson (G League), out; forward Luka Samanic (G League), out; guard Quindarry Weatherspoon (G League), out.
Notable: Wednesday night's game against the Timberwolves is the second of three in a row at home this week for the Spurs, who are 4-5 at the AT&T Center this season. The Silver and Black end the homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. Minnesota is 6-2 on the road.
As expected, the Spurs' stay in the victory column was brief after they ended an eight-game losing streak Saturday with a 111-104 road win over the New York Knicks.
Two nights later, LeBron James scored 12 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and had 14 assists to spark the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-104 victory against the Silver and Black at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs trailed by only four points after three quarters, but James was virtually unstoppable at the start of the final period. He scored 10 of the Lakers' first 12 points, including back-to-back three-pointers that put L.A. up by 11.
After Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray missed a three-pointer, James assisted on an alley-oop basket by JaVale McGee that gave the Lakers their biggest lead of the game (98-85) with 7:27 left.
Although more than half of the quarter remained, the game was essentially over at that point. The victory was the eighth in a row for the Lakers (15-2), while the Silver and Black dropped to 6-12.
"We played well the first half," Spurs forward Rudy Gay said. "We just have to learn how to finish games. We broke down a little bit, offensively and defensively. They (Lakers) took advantage of that.”
Despite the defeat, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was heartened by his team's performance.
"I thought we did a good job," he said.."It's the first game after a long road trip. That's always tough. But I thought the energy was great and I thought we did a lot of good things. Sometimes we get in our own way.
"A couple of bad transitions. We gave up a couple of threes in a row. LeBron had a good stretch there, but all in all, I was pleased with a lot of things that I saw. We're on the right track."
The Spurs will try to bounce back Wednesday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-8). The game will be the second of three straight at home this week for the Silver and Black, who are 4-5 at the AT&T Center this season.
San Antonio caps the homestand Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, who signed former Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard this summer after he led Toronto the NBA title.
The Silver and Black went 3-1 against Minnesota last year and won both of their meetings at the AT&T Center. But beating the Wolves on Wednesday night could be a tall order for the Spurs, who will face a team that is 6-2 on the road this season.
While Popovich gleaned the positive from the loss to the Lakers, his players expressed disappointment in faltering in the pivotal fourth quarter.
“We stalled," forward DeMar DeRozan said. "We made mental, key mistakes that seem to be dawning on us this season. Teams, they’re going to take advantage of it even when it’s just a short span, or you have the lead or a game tie. Next thing you know, our mental lapse kicks in, and next thing you know we’re down 10 trying to fight back.”
LaMarcus Aldridge and DeRozan led the Spurs' scoring with 30 and 24 points, respectively. Bryn Forbes (13) and Derrick White (11) were the only other San Antonio players in double figures. Forbes knocked down 3 of 7 three-pointers.
"There’s a lot of things we can do better," Gay said. "It’s kind of a broken record. We just need to be better executing at the end of the games. Mostly defensively, but also offensively."
Forbes has started the last two games at point guard, replacing Murray, who is still shaking off the rust after missing last season with a knee injury.
Gay was asked how having Murray come off the bench affects the dynamics of the Spurs' offense.
“It changes things," Gay said. "They’re two different players, him and Derrick. It’s going to take time to get used to it, whatever the plan is for him (Murray). No matter what, he has to be aggressive. He has to be great. He’s a great player in this league, he’s going to continue to get better and continue to be focused.”
Murray, who has started 13 of the 15 games he's played in this season, is averaging 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
“Understand that both of those guys, both of them play at a different pace, Derrick and DJ (Murray)," DeRozan said. "Derrick kind of has a calm to him, not as aggressive as DJ. It just changed the momentum of the game. There’s nothing too significantly different between the two of them.”