Spurs rally to beat T'Wolves, keep pace with Warriors

Spurs rally to beat T'Wolves, keep pace with Warriors


MINNEAPOLIS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead jumper with 54 seconds to play to help the San Antonio Spurs to a 100-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for the Spurs, who remained three games behind Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio scored 35 points off of 23 turnovers by Minnesota and held off a fourth-quarter rally from the Wolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost four straight games to fade from playoff contention in the West. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points and Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 of his 18 points in the second quarter for Minnesota.

San Antonio trailed by nine at halftime, but turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter to grab control. Held to just two points in the first half, Leonard scored 12 in the third and the Spurs forced 10 turnovers by the Wolves in a 31-16 frame.

The Spurs led 88-80 midway through the fourth quarter when Leonard had to go to the bench after getting whacked in the face by Gorgui Dieng. That opened the door for the Wolves, who outscored the Spurs 8-4 while their MVP candidate was on the bench.

Wiggins threw down a big dunk in traffic to ignite the rally and Towns converted a three-point play to put the Wolves up 93-92 with 2:04 to play.

Leonard responded with an 18-foot jumper and Wiggins missed a good look on the other end that would have put Minnesota back in front.

Spurs: F David Lee did not play because of a sore left foot. Lee said he expected to be ready to go against Memphis on Thursday. ... Leonard has scored in double figures in 97 straight games, the longest streak by a Spur since David Robinson did it in 157 straight from 1994-96. ... Pau Gasol added 11 points and six boards.

Timberwolves: The team announced it will unveil its new logo on April 11. The Wolves also will get new uniforms as part of a rebrand under Nike next season.

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon reportedly is in the running for the women's head coaching job at Florida, and coach Gregg Popovich said she has been "an integral part of what we do and been a fantastic coach for us." Lee pronounced her "more than ready" to run a program. A former Gator, Lee said he offered his assistance to her if she had any questions about the school.

When the Spurs hired Hammon, the belief was she may one day become the first female head coach in the NBA.

"If anybody's going to do it, it would be her," Lee said. "She has a great disposition."

Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica had surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured navicular bone in his left foot. The team said the surgery went as expected, but did not put a timetable on his return.

Bjelica was injured in a game against Boston last week, removing a key bench player for a Timberwolves team lacking in depth to begin with. The Wolves signed Omri Casspi to take some of his minutes down the stretch, and he played 22 minutes in his debut on Tuesday night.

Spurs: San Antonio begins a four-game homestand on Thursday against Memphis.

Timberwolves: Minnesota starts a two-game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Friday.

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.