MINNEAPOLIS – Ettore Messina had a simple goal when he took over the San Antonio Spurs for two games while coach Gregg Popovich stayed home to tend to a family matter.
“The machine is a well-oiled machine,” Messina said. “It goes on. You try to sit at the wheel and steer and try not to mess it up. Keep it straight.”
After veering off course in Indiana, Messina steered the Spurs back on to the track in an overwhelming performance against Minnesota.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and seven rebounds to help the Spurs bounce back from a rare loss with a 116-91 victory over the Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points and the Spurs (54-10) led by as many as 26 points in a game they played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Popovich. David West scored 18 points as the Spurs shot 55.3 percent and only turned the ball over nine times.
“I thought guys came back understanding we have to be better on both ends of the floor,” Aldridge said.
Andrew Wiggins had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and nine boards, and Zach LaVine scored 15 points.
The Wolves have been playing for some time without Kevin Garnett (leg), Nikola Pekovic (foot) and Nemanja Bjelica (foot), and ran out of gas in their fourth game in five nights.
“They need to remember these losses though,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “If you’re ever going to get better, if you’re ever going to win, you have to remember the times where you got your butt kicked.”
The Spurs haven’t dealt with much losing this season, and they responded to their 10th defeat of the season with a workman-like dismantling of the Timberwolves. Even with their three mainstays out of the lineup and their peerless coach at home tending to a family issue, they didn’t miss a beat.
Blazers 116, Wizards 109 (OT)
In Portland, Damian Lillard had 41 points and 11 assists, and the Trail Blazers snapped a three-game losing streak.
Hawks 91, Jazz 84
In Salt Lake City, Jeff Teague scored 24 points to lead Atlanta to the road win.
Raptors 104, Nets 99
In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan had 25 points for the Raptors, and Kyle Lowry added 23 points and nine assists.
Lakers 107, Magic 98
In Los Angeles, D’Angelo Russell scored 27 points, Jordan Clarkson added 24 and the Lakers won consecutive games for the second time since Jan. 3.
Nuggets 110, Knicks 94
In Denver, Kenneth Faried had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help the Nuggets to their eighth straight win over the Knicks at the Pepsi Center.