SAN ANTONIO (AP)Keldon Johnson scored 25 points, Doug McDermott added 23 and the San Antonio Spurs beat Minnesota 107-98 on Sunday night, their second victory over the Timberwolves during a tumultuous week.
The Spurs were without starters Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell and key reserve Josh Richardson. As significant as the injuries and illness were, a darker cloud hung over the team following Joshua Primo’s dismissal from the team Friday for allegedly exposing himself to several women.
A roster with an average age of 23-years-old has overcome the turmoil so far.
”Just being a family, that’s pretty much all I can say,” Johnson said. ”We have each other’s back.”
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 26 points and Anthony Edwards had 18. Rudy Gobert was held to nine points and 12 rebounds.
The Spurs improved to 5-2 in which many speculated they would vie for the league’s worst record with such a young roster.
”I didn’t know they were that fearless,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ”Maybe when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, sometimes you just go do it. You just go play.”
The Spurs did so from the start.
San Antonio was 16 for 40 on 3-pointers, one shy of their season high for 3-pointers. McDermott 7 for 14 from behind the arc and Johnson made half of his 10 attempts. McDermott matched a career high for 3-pointers he set last season with the Spurs.
”When you have a great culture, it just carries onto the floor,” McDermott said. ”As a 30-year-old whose been on six or seven teams, I haven’t had this much fun playing basketball. It’s just been a joy to be a part of.”
The Spurs held the Timberwolves to 23 points in the opening quarter, a season-low for an opponent as well as the lowest output for the Timberwolves.
”They shoot the 3-ball well, they shoot free throws well, they finish at the basket well,” Towns said. ”That’s a recipe for success.”
After trailing by 19 points in the third quarter, Minnesota opened the fourth on a 14-2 run in cutting San Antonio’s lead to 87-84 but McDermott and Johnson both hit key 3-pointers late to preserve the victory.
The Timberwolves were outrebounded 52-45, including 14 offensive rebounds for the Spurs.
”We just didn’t play,” a visibly frustrated Towns said. ”We didn’t compete enough.”
Timberwolves: Former Spurs G Bryn Forbes and F Kyle Anderson were honored during a timeout in the first quarter with a video highlighting their time in San Antonio. . Towns was not happy with Taurean Prince following a foul by Edwards on Zach Collins’ layup midway through the second quarter. Towns approached Prince, continually motioning to an area on the court. Prince threw his hands down and walked away in apparent frustration with Towns.
Spurs: Vassell sat out with a sore left knee and Richardson missed the game with a lower back tightness. Sochan and Roby missed with flu-like symptoms. Roby was ruled out and hour before tipoff. . G Romeo Langford made his 12th career start in his second season with the Spurs and fourth overall. The 6-foot-5 Langford blocked a floater by the 7-foot-1 Gobert in the final seconds of the first quarter. . Rookie guard Blake Wesley exited the game in the first half with a left knee injury after landing awkwardly after being fouled on a drive. Wesley went to the locker room shortly after making a pair of free throws. Popovich said an X-ray was negative and that he hopes Wesley simply bumped knees with an opponent.
The Spurs waived Primo an hour before Friday’s game, cutting ties with the 19-year-old guard after he allegedly exposed himself to several women, including a contractor for the team.
Popovich would not elaborate on when and where the incidents took place, when the Spurs became aware of Primo’s actions or why he wasn’t suspended immediately if the allegations were credible.
”I think under the circumstances, I think it’s inappropriate for me to say anything beyond what we already put out for our statement,” Popovich said.
Timberwolves: At Phoenix on Tuesday.
Spurs: Play the third of a four-game homestand Wednesday against Miami.