Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 21 rebounds and the NBA-leading Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat San Antonio 102-94 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory and the Spurs' 15th loss in a row.
Mike Conley added 18 points, Anthony Edwards had 17 and Naz Reid 15. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to help Minnesota improve to 16-4. Edwards returned after missing two games because of a right hip pointer, but went 4 of 17 from the field.
“He’s been playing phenomenal for us,” Edwards said of Gobert. "He’s the reason we’re where we’re at right now. We hope he stays healthy and continues to dominate.”
Gobert matched up often with good friend and French countryman Victor Wembanyama in the rookie’s first game in Minnesota. Wembanyama struggled against Minnesota’s height with Gobert, Towns and Reid, scoring just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting. He had 10 rebounds.
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Devin Vassell scored 22 points to lead San Antonio. Keldon Johnson added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Zach Collins had 12 points.
“It’s promising," Wembanyama said about the defense. "But of course, our shots weren’t falling tonight either. We got to take everything we can to get better.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made a change to his starting lineup, returning Vassell to the lineup for the first time in six games since he returned from a left adductor strain. Cedi Osman also made his first start.
“It's what we wanted to do," Popovich said without elaborating on the lineup changes.
The Timberwolves trailed early in the fourth quarter before 3-pointers from Edwards and Reid spurred a 16-2 run.
“There just wasn’t enough competitive spirit on the ball," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said of the defense in the first half. “We came out, obviously had Rudy back in the lineup and he made all the difference in the world tonight, as he has been. We found some teeth defensively. But really, I thought we were just kind of out there in the first half at three-quarter speed.”
Minnesota is still without starting forward Jaden McDaniels because of a sprained right ankle. He has been cleared to participate in individual on-court and strength training activities.
“It’s fun to watch this crowd embracing us and it’s cool to feel it, because we’ve been through a lot of adversity last year,” Gobert said. “Came back this year, had a great training camp and we’re working hard every day.”
Spurs: Host Chicago on Friday night.
Timberwolves: At Memphis on Friday night.