SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Despite getting ejected for heatedly arguing a foul and seeing Manu Ginobili strain a hamstring, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich couldn’t suppress a few smiles after the Spurs’ latest home win.
Tony Parker scored 20 points and Tim Duncan had 14 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks to lead San Antonio in a 106-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, extending the Spurs’ home winning streak to 12 games.
Duncan’s season-high in blocks helped the Spurs outscore the Timberwolves 54-34 in the paint and San Antonio finished with a 43-28 edge in rebounding.
“I don’t think that’s a huge surprise,” Popovich said, smiling, when told of Duncan’s blocks. “It’s kind of neat that it was seven, but I mean, he does that every night. He tries to do the best he can guarding, blocking shots, protecting the rim for us.”
Gary Neal scored 15 points, including 3-for-3 shooting on 3-pointers to help San Antonio beat Minnesota at home for the 16th straight time. Tiago Splitter had 10 points and Ginobili scored 12 in the first half before leaving with a strained left hamstring.
Duncan had five blocks in the first quarter to help offset a sluggish start as San Antonio captured a 24-21 lead.
“I don’t know, they just kept coming at me,” Duncan said. “I’m just trying to bring some energy back and get our rhythm back. I’ve been in a slump lately and I’m trying to fight my way out of it.”
The Spurs started 3 for 9 from the field with two turnovers in falling behind 16-7. Following a timeout, San Antonio went on a 13-1 run as Minnesota missed 11 shots in a 5-minute drought.
The Timberwolves ended the skid on two free throws by Ricky Rubio, despite replays showing Boris Diaw had a clean block with no body contact on the play.
Ginobili, who had six points in the run, did not return after straining his left hamstring in the final minute of the first half. He also had five assists in 12:29.
Popovich said the Spurs will not know Ginobili’s status until Monday.
J.J. Barea scored 15 points, Nikola Pekovic had 14 and Luke Ridnour 13 for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota was without head coach Rick Adelman, who missed his second straight game to be with his wife, Mary Kay, who is hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.
The Spurs attacked the basket to open the second half as Kawhi Leonard had a dunk and dropped in a floater, and Duncan and Parker had layups in an 11-0 run.
Dante Cunningham then led an 8-0 run that pulled Minnesota to 66-62.
Neal scored eight points in the opening 3 minutes of the final quarter to extend San Antonio’s lead to 88-75.
“We were right there going into the fourth,” Ridnour said. “On the road, that’s where you want to be — within striking distance. We just went rough a little lull and Neal got hot there.”
Popovich was ejected with 7:22 remaining in the game following a double technical for arguing a foul called against Splitter on Barea. The ejection sparked an 11-0 run for the Spurs, including a dunk and two reverse layups by Splitter.
The ejection didn’t seem to linger with Popovich. When asked about the play of Patty Mills, who was 2 for 8 in scoring five points, the Spurs coach couldn’t help but smile.
“He was on fire,” Popovich said, biting his lip and shaking his head in a futile attempt not to smile. “Patty is always an energetic guy; he does a great job busting his butt. He just couldn’t find the rim tonight, well, he found the rim; he couldn’t find the net.”
Popovich was able to limit his starter’s minutes early in the second quarter, to the point Duncan playfully walked to the scorer’s table to check in. Popovich grabbed him by the front of his warm-up shirt and walked the former MVP back to the bench. The frivolity lasted less than a minute, as Duncan re-entered the game after back-to-back steals by Minnesota cut San Antonio’s lead to 35-32.
NOTES: The Spurs are 16-2 at home, for the league’s best winning percentage at .889. Their victory total is tied for third with Miami (16-3) behind Oklahoma City (18-3) and the Los Angeles Clippers (18-4). … Minnesota F Kevin Love (fractured hand), G Brandon Roy (knee), G Chase Budinger (knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee) did not play. … San Antonio has had 12 different starters this season, the most of any NBA team. Ginobili is the only active player on the Spurs roster who has not started a game this season. Cory Joseph and James Anderson have not started, but both have primarily played in the D-Leaague this season. … Ridnour, Cunningham and Alexey Shved have played every game for the Timberwolves this season. … The Spurs’ longest home winning streak is 22 games, which they set from Dec. 3, 2010 to March 4, 2011.
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