With their three veteran stars sidelined and coach Gregg Popovich absent, the San Antonio Spurs had a dominating effort from LaMarcus Aldridge in a 116-91 victory on Tuesday at Minnesota.
Aldridge scored 29 points on 11-of-13 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, blocked four shots and passed out four assists as the Spurs, 54-10, won for the ninth time in 10 games.
“I thought guys were focused,” Aldridge said. “Guys came back understanding where to be better on both ends of the floor. I thought guys competed well.”
The Spurs rested forward Tim Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili while French guard Tony Parker sat out with a bruised left toe and Popovich was gone because of a family health issue.
So it was left for Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina to explain how San Antonio rolled ahead by halftime with an all-star group missing.
“The machine is a well-oiled machine,” Messina said. “It goes on. You try to sit at the wheel and steer and try not to mess it up. Keep it straight.”
The Spurs, three games behind defending NBA champion Golden State for the best record in the league, bounced back from a 99-91 loss on Monday to Indiana. They have not dropped two games in a row all season.
David West scored 18 points for San Antonio and Kawhi Leonard added 15. Ex-Timberwolf guard Andre Miller, who signed with the Spurs last week, had 13 points and five assists in place of Parker.
“When he was on the floor, the team was playing with poise,” Messina said. “We had the patience to throw the ball inside and take advantage of that, start throwing the ball out and finding shots.”
Andrew Wiggins had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves (20-45), who lost for the second time in as many nights. Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points and nine rebounds.
RAPTORS RALLY TO BEAT NETS
At Toronto, the host Raptors erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit and held on to beat the Brooklyn Nets 104-99.
DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 25 points while Kyle Lowry added 23 points and nine assists and Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson each added 11 points for the Raptors (42-20), who pulled within two games of Eastern Conference leader Cleveland.
The Nets (18-46) were led by Brook Lopez’s game-high 35 points, seven blocks and five rebounds. Lopez became the first player in the NBA this season to score 35 points and block at least five shots in the same game.
Kenneth Faried had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets kept New York’s Carmelo Anthony winless in Denver since being traded from the Nuggets to the Knicks, taking a 110-94 triumph. Nikola Jokic had 20 points and nine rebounds and Gary Harris scored 16 for the Nuggets (26-38).
Anthony, booed whenever he touched the ball, had 30 points and seven rebounds but he remained winless in the Mile High City since he was traded to New York (26-39) in a 13-player deal on February 22, 2011.
Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Paul Millsap added 18 as the Atlanta Hawks rallied to win 91-84 at Utah.
D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points, Jordan Clarkson added 24 and Julius Randle contributed 23 as the Los Angeles Lakers ripped visiting Orlando 107-98. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was sidelined with a sore shoulder.
Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted Washington 116-109 in overtime, improving to 33-31, level with Dallas for sixth in the Western Conference.