MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- For the first time since the fourth day of
January, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost at home.
The Spurs led most of the way in sending the Timberwolves to
their first setback at Target Center since a 105-97 loss to Utah on
MVP contenders Duncan and Kevin Garnett had almost identical
stats, as Garnett scored 17 points and added 13 rebounds. But
Garnett shot just 6-of-19 as the Wolves trailed by as many as 20
Duncan, meanwhile, scored 10 of his points in the first quarter
as the Spurs never trailed after Minnesota scored the game's first
point. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili scored 17 points each for San
Antonio, which has won 17 of its last 19.
"These past 10 games or so, we've really turned our defense
up," Duncan said. "We're looking at the stretch run as our prep
for the playoffs."
Troy Hudson led Minnesota with 30 points, 20 in the third
quarter. Hudson made eight consecutive shots in the quarter and
almost single-handedly sliced a 20-point Spurs' lead to four.
Hudson scored 18 points during a 22-6 run that ended with his
fourth 3-pointer of the quarter, which pulled Minnesota to 70-66
with 2:04 to play.
"We were down so much, I just wanted to create some energy for
us," Hudson said. "But with a team like San Antonio, you waste so
much energy coming back."
Following a Spurs timeout, Hudson forced up two shots that
missed badly, and Jackson and Parker got behind the Minnesota
defense for inside baskets, igniting an 8-0 run to close the
Speedy Claxton took over at point guard with Parker in foul
trouble in the fourth quarter and scored 11 of his 13 points to
keep the Spurs in control. The Wolves never got closer than 11 in
the final quarter.
"We kept our composure when they made their run," Duncan said.
"We threw it right back at them."
The Spurs swept their three-game road trip and moved within
three games of Dallas for first place in the Western Conference.
San Antonio has won 12 of 13 games on the road, including an 8-of-9
trip that began with a 106-95 loss at Minnesota in the teams' last
meeting on Jan. 27.
"Before those nine games, we were losing too many games on the
road," Ginobili said. "We made bad plays and bad decisions. Now
we're playing with a lot of confidence."
San Antonio has crept within three games of Dallas for the best
record in the Western Conference.
The Spurs, the NBA's top team in field-goal defense at 42
percent, held the Wolves to 37 percent shooting in the first half.
San Antonio made 5-of-7 3-pointers in the first half, with Ginobili
hitting all three of his.
The Wolves' only highlight of the first half was a clean block
by Wally Szczerbiak of an attempted dunk by Ginobili, which brought
the crowd to its feet. But even that came in the middle of a 12-1
Spurs run that put San Antonio up 41-24.
Parker scored six of the Spurs' first 10 points in the second
half to give San Antonio its biggest lead, 58-38.
Spurs center David Robinson sat out his third consecutive
game with lower back pain. Robinson missed both meetings with the
Wolves at Target Center. ... Wolves guard Rod Strickland, who has
missed the past 21 games with a groin strain, is expected to return
either Friday vs. the Lakers or Sunday against Portland. Forward
Joe Smith played 4 minutes after missing the past two games with a
sprained ankle. ... Minnesota's 17 points in the first quarter tied
its season low.
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The Los Angeles Rams kicked off the 2016 draft by picking Cal Bears' QB, Jared Goff, while the possible best prospect slips to the number 13 spot.
The Hawks slammed the door on Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics, but Boston has reason to be optimisitc after playoff disappointment.