San Antonio Spurs (11-3) vs Charlotte Hornets (8-5)
7pm ET on ESPN
Gregg Popovich’s Spurs survived what the coach termed “a pathetic performance"” on Monday to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 96-91. To be fair, the Spurs were without Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge, who were resting up ahead of a stretch of 3 games over four days, and their subs, rookies Dejounte Murray and Davis Bertans, who managed just 7 points in 35 minutes combined. But Kawhi Leonard delivered, 24 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, and Patty Mills came off the bench to score 17. Dallas led by as much as 8 midway through the 3d quarter, but a Manu Ginobili 3-pointer put the capper on an 11-3 Spurs run to tie it at 65, from there it was a back-and-forth affair until halfway through the 4th, when a pair of Leonard freebies but San Antonio up for good 85-84. The win, as unsatisfying as it was, was Popovich’s 1,100th as an NBA coach.
Minnesota Timberwolves (4-9) vs New Orleans Pelicans (5-10)
9:30pm ET on ESPN
The Timberwolves spit the bit on Monday. After leading the Celtics by 81-66 in the waning moments of the 3rd quarter, the T’wolves stood idly by as the Celtics went on a 19-0 run to take the lead 85-81. Minnesota missed 12 shots in a row during that stretch, and couldn’t even draw a foul, totally wasting a monster effort from Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 27 points and 18 rebounds. After heading into the game tied with the Spurs for the best 3-pointing shooting percentage at 39.4%, the T’wolves hit just 4 of 24, 16.7%. As ugly as that loss was – and make no mistake, it was ugly – and as frustrating as their record may be, T’wolves fans need not despair. Their trio of 21-year-olds – Towns, Zach Lavine, and Anthony Wiggins – are averaging 18+ ppg, and the team is actually outscoring the opposition by 1.1 points per game. Let these guys learn how to clamp down on D and fiascoes like Monday will become rare.
Anthony Davis missed much of Tuesday’s action nursing a bruised knee, scoring just 13 points and pulling down only 3 rebounds, but New Orleans Pelicans overcame his absence to blow out the Hawks 112-94. Guard Tim Frazier had a big night, leading the Pelicans with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Terrence Jones shook off an illness to come off the bench and add 17 points and 6 boards. New Orleans was hitting from every spot on the floor, making 52% from the floor, including 44% from 3, and made 91% of their free throws. The victory was the Pelicans’ third in a row, a streak that coincides with the return of Jrue Holiday, who missed the first 12 games of the season to be with his pregnant wife, former US Women’s National Soccer Team member Lauren Holiday, while she was undergoing brain surgery. Despite missing extended minutes last night, Davis leads his team with 31.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.8 steals per game and 2.9 blocks. Dude can play a little bit.
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