THE FACTS: The San Antonio Spurs started their nine-game road trip exactly the way they wanted, defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-94 on Wednesday night. Playing without Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and Manu Ginobli (tight left hamstring), the Spurs got their 11th straight win on the back of big production from Danny Green and Tony Parker. Green made a career-high eight 3-pointers (on 12 attempts) and ended up with 28 points. Parker scored 30 or more for the seventh time this season, finishing with 31 points. Nikola Pekovic led Minnesota with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Ricky Rubio continued to look more like the Rubio of last year, dishing out 11 assists. His shooting touch still needs work, however, as he was an anemic 3-for-13 from the floor.
QUOTABLE: "I thought we played pretty well from the most part. We just made too many mental mistakes especially defensively at crucial times in the fourth quarter when they had a couple of guys cut to the basket. ... We are right there with a tie game and two possessions later they go up five and maintain control from there."
-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman
THE STAT: The game stat sheet doesn't tell the story of this game, as most of the stats are pretty close. You have to look at what the Spurs did at key moments in this game. In the fourth quarter, for example, the Spurs shot 55 percent to the Wolves' 41.7. The Spurs also made all their fourth-quarter free throws, and they moved the ball well down the stretch, accumulating nine fourth-quarter assists -- three times the Wolves' fourth-quarter assist total. While Rubio had a game-high 11 assists, the rest of the Wolves only managed five assists. By comparison, Parker's very respectable eight assists were matched by 16 assists from the rest of his team.
TURNING POINT: The first 3 1/2 quarters were closely fought -- there were nine ties and 21 lead changes. But in the final seven minutes of the game, the Spurs were able to do exactly what they wanted and needed to do and the Wolves were unable to find any consistency. Minnesota led by two with 7:45 to play in the game when Green went on a personal 11-2 run, hitting three 3-pointers and making a layup. Minnesota fought back to within three points, only to see the Spurs make four straight layups, expanding their lead to 11 with 1:21 to play. From that point, the Spurs made their free throws, effectively securing their 11th straight victory.
QUOTABLE II: "I think [we] do have a good confidence level. The system doesn't change when those guys [Duncan and Ginobli] are out. If Tony [Parker] was out, somebody else would play. They just run the same stuff. We don't change anything. I think that they are pretty used to execution no matter who is on the court. They just execute it. Obviously, you have to make shots. Danny [Green] and Kawhi [Leonard] were pretty good at that tonight."
-- San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich
NOTABLE: Wednesday is the first of a nine-game road trip for San Antonio, their annual "Rodeo Road Trip." They will not return home until February 27 .. The Kevin Love factor (or lack thereof) has been on prominent display lately. Despite winning the rebound battle (51-45), a victory assisted by the absence of Duncan, Minnesota has been outrebounded in 12 of its last 15 games after outrebounding 16 of its previous 18 opponents .. Minnesota forward Andrei Kirilenko was presented with the Euroscar European Player of the Year before tonight's game. This award is given to the best European player, regardless of where he plays and is based both on professional and national team performances. This is Kirilenko's first time receiving this honor.
UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Friday vs. New York, Sunday at Memphis, Monday at Cleveland. For the Spurs, Friday at Detriot, Sunday at Brooklyn, Monday at Chicago.