Aldridge scores 29, Spurs bounce back with win over Wolves

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and seven rebounds to help the San Antonio Spurs bounce back from a rare loss with a 116-91 victory over the Minnesota 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 coach Gregg Popovich. David West scored 18 points as the Spurs shot 55.3 percent and only turned the ball over nine times.

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 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 defense. 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.

“The machine is a well-oiled machine,” assistant Ettore Messina, who has filled in for Popovich the last two games, said before the game. “It goes on. You try to sit at the wheel and steer and try not to mess it up. Keep it straight.”

Data curated by PointAfter

The Spurs shot a season-low 35 percent overall and 14 percent from 3-point range against Indiana on Monday night. They were much better against Minnesota’s young and porous defense. Aldridge got whatever he wanted, peppering the Wolves with midrange jumpers and throwing down an emphatic dunk on Towns to get the Spurs going in the second quarter.

San Antonio closed the half with a 9-0 run, then just leaned on the young Wolves in the third to break it open.

Andre Miller, who was bought out by the Timberwolves and joined the Spurs at the end of February, started for Parker (toe). Miller had 13 points and five assists in 25 minutes.

The Spurs turned the ball over just three times in the first three quarters and now head home for five straight games at AT&T Center, where they are 30-0 this season.

HOT COMMODITY

Messina’s name has started to come up in speculation about possible head coaching openings in the NBA, most notably with the Brooklyn Nets, who are owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Messina coached Russian power CSKA Moscow, but he called the discussion just that – “speculation.”

When asked if he would be interested in pursuing a head coaching job in the league, Messina demurred.

“Look, I’m a soldier,” Messina said. “Whatever will happen in the future, the first person I will talk to is Pop and the second is R.C. And that’s it.”

TIP-INS

Spurs: Messina called Parker’s injury a day-to-day situation. Duncan and Ginobili rested on the second night of a back-to-back. … It was Miller’s first start since Dec. 9, 2013, when he was playing with the Nuggets against Washington.

Timberwolves: PG Ricky Rubio had a rough night with two points, four rebounds, three assists and four fouls in 20 minutes. … The Wolves were outrebounded 46-35 and committed 15 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Spurs: Host Chicago on Thursday.

Timberwolves: Visit Oklahoma City on Friday.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole

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Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

The two players had been jawing at each other when it escalated and Green punched Poole, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Warriors elder statesman Andre Iguodala Tweeted out this on the situation, wanting to keep it all in the family, and adding that “it broke my heart… but it fixed my vision.”

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle

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The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.