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Spurs fend off Timberwolves to keep pace with Warriors

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    Spurs fend off Timberwolves to keep pace with Warriors

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

Despite LaMarcus Aldridge’s dunk in the first half, the Spurs were down nine points to the Timberwolves at halftime.
Despite LaMarcus Aldridge’s dunk in the first half, the Spurs were down nine points to the Timberwolves at halftime.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, center, lays up between Minnesota Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal and Cole Aldrich, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, center, lays up between Minnesota Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng, of Senegal and Cole Aldrich, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

Spurs fend off Timberwolves to keep pace with Warriors

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The San Antonio Spurs appeared to be in trouble when Kawhi Leonard had to go to the bench in the fourth quarter after getting poked in his left eye.

The Minnesota Timberwolves went to work on an eight-point deficit and jumped back into the game. Leonard returned just in time to help the visiting Spurs win. Leonard scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and hit a go-ahead jumper with 54 seconds to play to help the Spurs to a 100-93 victory Tuesday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for the Spurs, who scored 35 points off 23 turnovers by Minnesota for a much-needed victory. Now they head home for a challenging four-game stay trailing the Warriors by 2½ games for the top seed in the Western Conference.

“It looks like sometimes we need to be pushed to the limit to bring out the best in us,” Manu Ginobili said. “Sometimes we have it. Sometimes we’re going to be able to overcome that, and sometimes (we) won’t.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost four straight games to fade from playoff contention. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points.

“We’re mistakenly making things up, so the other guys don’t know what the other is doing, and it’s leading to mistakes,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Bucks 93, Trail Blazers 90: Khris Middleton scored 26 points for visiting Milwaukee, which has won nine of 11 and is a half-game ahead of Miami for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. Portland, which was led by Damian Lillard’s 31 points, dropped to a game behind Denver for the final postseason berth in the West.

Raptors 122, Bulls 120: DeMar DeRozan had 42 points and host Toronto snapped an 11-game losing streak against Chicago with an overtime win. Cory Joseph had 19 points for the Raptors, and Serge Ibaka scored 16 before he was ejected for his role in a fight with Robin Lopez during the third quarter. Jimmy Butler had 37 points for the Bulls in Chicago’s first loss to Toronto since Dec. 31, 2013. Following Butler’s three-pointer with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter, giving Chicago a 16-point lead, Lopez swatted the ball out of the hand of Ibaka. The two squared up in the middle of a crowd and Lopez swung and missed Ibaka, who returned in kind, barely connecting with the head of the center.

Pelicans 95, Grizzlies 82: DeMarcus Cousins enjoyed his most prolific performance for host New Orleans with 41 points and 17 rebounds. Cousins hit five three-pointers, tying a career high, and made five shots inside while being fouled for three-point plays. The Pelicans won for the fifth time in six games while snapping Memphis’ four-game winning streak.

Heat 112, Suns 97: Hassan Whiteside needed 13 stitches postgame to close a cut in his right hand, overshadowing his 23-point, 14-rebound performance that helped put host Miami back into the eighth playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The cut is between Whiteside’s middle and ring fingers, the team said, essentially the same spot as a cut that needed 10 stitches two seasons ago, keeping him out for three games. Whiteside was hurt with 2:08 left and the Heat leading by 24, when his hand got caught in the foam attached to the bottom of the backboard. He let out a loud scream and headed to the locker room.

Nets 98, Pistons 96: Brook Lopez made a winning jumper for host Brooklyn as time expired. Detroit had wiped out a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the score 96-96 on Tobias Harris’ follow shot with 2.4 seconds left.

Clippers 133, Lakers 100: Chris Paul scored 27 points and JJ Redick 24, and the Clippers, playing as the visiting team, led by 30 at halftime. Earlier, the Lakers signed David Nwaba to a multiyear deal after the rookie guard impressed them on two 10-day contracts.

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