Year in and year out, San Antonio is a well-oiled machine, so there is no shame in losing to them on the road. But with Kawhi Leonard out, these are the games that the T-Wolves need to win to become a playoff team. Minnesota had their chances, but couldn't execute down the stretch. The same thing that plagued the T-Wolves in fourth quarters last year got them again, careless turnovers, missed open shots, and defensive lapses.

Game MVP

Andrew Wiggins showed why Minnesota signed him to that max contract in the offseason (26 points/five rebounds). His offensive talent his unquestioned.

But for Wiggins, it’s all about playing ‘winning basketball.’ What that means for Minnesota is still to be determined as they develop an identity with the roster changeover, but it ultimately will be whatever Coach Tom Thibodeau needs. Wiggins sat an awfully long time in the fourth quarter as the T-Wolves made their run to get back in the game; my guess is that it had something to do with his defense.

The other starters

Karl-Anthony Towns got off to a slow start, but finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. All night he had his hands full with LaMarcus Aldridge, who played with an aggressiveness that his game was missing last season. Jimmy Butler made his presence known early, scoring eight points in the first quarter, but was relatively quiet after that (12 points).

The other two new starters struggled as well. Both Taj Gibson (3-11 field goals) and Jeff Teague (11 points) didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.

The bench

The T-Wolves went with a lot of second unit players throughout the game. Third-year point guard Tyus Jones will have an opportunity to get some serious playing time this season.

His impact wasn't felt offensively (three points), but he was on the floor in the second and fourth quarter when Minnesota went on runs to get back in the game. The ageless Jamal Crawford played 23 minutes and scored 10 points, but he’s a heat-check type of player who never found more than a flicker.

Final thoughts

The additions of Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson were supposed to solidify the T-Wolves' defense and fourth quarter play.

The Spurs scored 32 points in the opening frame, and the T-Wolves looked like they were playing on skates trying to keep up with the ball movement. Things settled down after that, but when the Spurs opened up the door for them to take the lead late, this game looked a lot like how Minnesota played last year.