Game rewind: These aren’t the same ol’ T-Wolves are they?

Remember the days when the Minnesota Timberwolves  were a frolic  in the park for the Spurs?

The Spurs came into the season with a 16-game winning streak over the once-moribund Timberwolves. David Robinson and Tony Parker took turns in setting the Target Center’s scoring record. Minnesota seemed to quake at the very mention of Silver and Black in previous seasons.

The arrival of veteran coach Rick Adelman and mercurial rookie point guard Ricky Rubio seems to have changed all that. Minnesota notched another impressive victory Friday with an 87-79 triumph over the Spurs — the second in the first 32 days of the season after they had not beaten San Antonio for a period of 1,725 days.

It’s Minnesota’s ninth victory of the season. The Timberwolves have beaten Dallas twice, San Antonio twice and notched  a road victory at the Los Angeles Clippers in their highlights so far this season.

Considering that the franchise had averaged 16 victories in their last two seasons and had lost at least 50 games in each of their last five years, it’s a big step of progress.

If you don’t believe it, just ask Gregg Popovich and the Spurs how far the Timberwolves have come.

Game analysis: The Timberwolves mashed the ball inside and came up with a strong defensive effort down the stretch to continue the Spurs’ road woes, limiting the Spurs to one field goal over the final seven minutes.

Where the game was won: After Gary Neal drilled a 3-pointer that gave the Spurs a 79-77 with 3:33 left, the Spurs would not score again as Minnesota put the game away with a 10-0 run. The Spurs missed their final seven shots as Rubio tied the game with two foul shots, but Minnesota ahead with a pullup jumper and then hit Kevin Love for a layup that helped ice the victory.  

Bring on the bench: The Spurs’ bench had a second straight strong game, outscoring Minnesota’s bench 38-27. Matt Bonner (13 points, three 3-pointers) and Tiago Splitter (12 points, seven rebounds, three assists) were instrumental in providing big efforts again Friday night. 

Player of the game I: Rubio is showing some strong development as he orchestrates Minnesota’s defense. He matched his career high with 18 points and added 10 assists — his eighth double-double this season and third in his last four games. And after hitting only 6 of 26 shots in his last two games, he rebounded to produce 7 of 12 from the field against the Spurs, including nine points in the fourth quarter.

Player of the game II:Love started slowly as he scored  only six points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first half. But he bounced back to become a force in the second half and finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.

Player of the game III:  Parker led the Spurs with 20 points, three rebounds and three assists.  It marked his ninth 20-point game this season and eighth game with at least 20 points since Manu Ginobili was injured.

Most unsung: The Spurs had no answer for massive 290-pound Nikola Pekovic, who started in place of Darko Milicic. Pekovic clogged up the middle as he scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.

Did you notice: After starting the game with 10 points in the first quarter, Richard Jefferson failed to score during the rest of the game.

Did you notice II: Of San Antonio’s final missed seven shots, five different players accounted for the misses. 

Did you notice III: A game after piling up a season-high 29 assists against Atlanta, the Spurs produced only 17 against the Timberwolves. It was their lowest total since their loss at Houston on Dec. 29.

Stat of the game: The Spurs were limited to 79 points in the loss — lowest total since a 77-71 loss at Philadelphia last Feb. 11.

Stat of the game II : After entering the fourth quarter tied at 64, the Spurs proceded to shoot 27.8 percent from the field in the fourth quarter. It was their lowest in a fourth quarter this season.

Stat of the game III: Thanks to strong performances from Love and Pekovic, the Timberwolves had a 50-26 edge in points in the paint and an 8-4 edge in second-chance points. The minus-24 differential in the paint was the largest single-game deficit of the season for the Spurs.

Weird stat of the game: The Spurs grabbed only two offensive rebounds in the game. It ranks as one of their three lowest single-game offensive rebounding games since 1985-86. It was their fewest offensive rebounds in a game since grabbing no offensive rebounds in a victory over Utah on Jan. 23, 2002.

Weird stat of the game II: The Spurs blocked eight shots, compared to one by Minnesota. In the previous three games, the Spurs blocked six shots and had 24 shots rejected.

Best plus/minus scores: DeJuan Blair was plus-3, Bonner was plus-2 and Parker was plus-1.

Worst plus/minus scores: Splitter was minus-16, Jefferson was minus-10 and Cory Joseph was minus-9.

Quote of the game: “This city is ready to explode. You can feel it,” Love, to the Associated Press about the excitement about surrounding the Timberwolves.

How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs have the day off  before traveling to Dallas on Sunday and Monday in Memphis. Minnesota hosts the Lakers on Sunday and will travel to Houston on Monday.

Injuries: Ginobili missed his 15th game (Spurs record 9-6) after undergoing surgery for a fractured fifth left metacarpal.  T.J. Ford missed his 10th game (Spurs record 6-4) with a torn left hamstring. Minnesota starting center  Milicic missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Guard J.J. Barea (sprained left ankle), guard Malcolm Lee (knee surgery) and Brad Miller (microfracture knee surgery) all missed Friday’s game.

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