MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Timberwolves waited four months for Tuesday's 110-91 victory over San Antonio.
"Yeah," T-wolves coach Rick Adelman said, "it was worth the wait."
A victory four months ago on that December night in Mexico City would have meant more back then for either a Wolves team that now has just five games left before another early summer vacation or a Spurs team that now has firm grasp on the Western Conference's lead.
The two teams were all set to play on December 4 far from home before smoke from a generator fire spilled into the arena while the Wolves and Spurs warmed up 90 minutes before the opening tip. Players and coaches from both sides stood out in the night for nearly two hours before the NBA postponed the game and said it would be rescheduled.
It was eventually rescheduled for Tuesday back at Target Center, since the Mexico City game was considered a Wolves home game.
All these months later, the Spurs finally came to Minnesota having lost just once since Feb. 10, having gone 20-1 in their last 21 games, including a franchise-record, 19-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Wolves have not had anything to play for recently except their personal pride and professionalism.
So all the Wolves did was win for the fifth time in eight games.
"Well, I don't know how it would have played out in Mexico," Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. "But I like how it played here, so I like it."
This time, the Wolves led the Spurs from start to finish, building leads of 25-13 in the first quarter, 54-34 at halftime and 65-37 in the third quarter against a Spurs team that played without injured All-Star guard Tony Parker and then lost sixth man Manu Ginobili in the third quarter after he got kneed in the back of the knee.
"Timberwolves played great," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They beat us in every facet of the game. They basically forced us to lay an egg. We were awful and a lot of it was because of their aggressiveness."
The Wolves themselves played without two starters - center Nikola Pekovic and guard Kevin Martin -- and reserves Chase Budinger and Shabazz Muhammad and still handed the Spurs their third-worst loss of the season.
"We had a very poor game and hopefully it's just one and that's it," Ginobili said.
Rubio made a career-high 10 shots from the field and led the Wolves with a 23-point, seven-assist performance on a night when Wolves star Kevin Love called himself "terrible" because he went 5-for-15 from the field on a 19-point, 12-rebound evening.
"He was great," Popovich said, referring to Rubio. "He was great."
Rubio scored on everything from a left-handed hook coming across the lane like a Spanish Magic Johnson to a variety of drives as well as pull-up and mid-range jumpers.
"I was feeling good so I tried everything I had," Rubio said.
He even tried a running floater - unusual for him - that didn't go down.
"What I liked about him is he came off and looked for the 15-foot jumper," Adelman said. "He was under control and he was able to get his feet under him and he shot it well. He really did a nice job."
Timberwolves rookie center Gorgui Dieng started in Pekovic's place once again and provided a 12-point, 15-rebound game matched up against Spurs star Tim Duncan, who had 10 points and six rebounds while playing fewer than 20 minutes.
"I was dreaming about playing against those guys," said Dieng, who has six double-doubles in his last 13 games. "Everyone knows Tim Duncan. He's going to be a Hall of Famer. I dream to play against those guys and when I got my chance, I just don't want to let it go because I'll never know I'll get my chance to play against him. So I was just out there to play."
NOTES: Spurs All-Star guard Tony Parker missed Tuesday's game because of a sprained back suffered during Sunday's victory over Memphis. ... The Timberwolves played without starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin and reserves Chase Budinger and Shabazz Muhammad. Budinger (sprained ankle) and Muhammad (MCL knee sprain) are done for the season and Pekovic (sore foot) very well could be. ... Timberwolves reserve F Dante Cunningham played Tuesday despite being arrested twice in the previous five days. He was arrested early Thursday morning and charged Friday with a felony domestic assault count by strangulation. He played Saturday in Orlando but was jailed again Sunday afternoon on suspicion of making terroristic text-message threats to his live-in girlfriend. He was released Monday and has not been charged in connection with the latest allegations. ... To add a healthy body, the Timberwolves signed Development League forward Othyus Jeffers on Tuesday afternoon for the rest of the season. He spent October with the Timberwolves but was one of the last preseason cuts. He played four games with the Spurs after being signed to a 10-day contract in January but otherwise has spent the season with the Iowa Energy.... Tuesday's rescheduled game requires the Timberwolves to play the Spurs and Chicago at home on back-to-back nights. The Bulls were already in town on Tuesday night and Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau watched the game from a mid-court spot in the stands about 12 rows up. ... Other dignitaries Tuesday were Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, a former Timberwolves player and front-office executive who could be the team's next coach, and Beach Boy singer Mike Love, Kevin Love's uncle.