MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 24 (Ticker) -- Rasho Nesterovic
may be the least likely candidate to outplay Tim Duncan
and David Robinson
, but it has been that kind of season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
KG mobs Radoslav Nesterovic after he scores 24 points in win over the Spurs.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
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Nesterovic had a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds and Terrell Brandon
scored 21 points as the Timberwolves avoided their first losing streak of the season with a 99-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Nesterovic entered the game averaging 8.9 points and 6.1 rebounds but stepped up his game against the league's best frontcourt duo. He made 12-of-23 shots and pulled down eight offensive rebounds.
"I was just trying to get to free areas when they left the basket open," Nesterovic said. "This team has so many good players, I just try to play good defense. Tonight they may have been concentrating on (Kevin Garnett) and (Joe Smith)."
"The most important thing about Rasho's night wasn't the 24 points or 12 rebounds, it was that he had 23 shots," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "There have been times he's had 23 shots after two games, let alone one. He's continuing to get better and better. This was a huge test for him and he played extremely well.
Nesterovic also had Robinson, a four-time All-Defensive First Team selection, baffled.
"He was great," Robinson said. "He was the X factor. I'm just going to have to do a better job, next time we play them, of defending him."
The Timberwolves trailed, 46-39, with 1:38 left in the first half before going on a 19-4 surge to build a 58-50 lead with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Smith scored nine of his 11 points during the run and gave Minnesota the lead for good with a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
Kevin Garnett had 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks and Wally Szczerbiak added 13 points and seven assists for the Wolves.
After missing all 10 of his shots in the first half, Duncan finished with 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting and grabbed 18 rebounds. Robinson added 17 points and six boards.
"I played a horrible first half but I thought the team did an excellent job finding other way to score," Duncan said. "We found a way to stay in the game but you can't have halves like that, not in my position."
Rookie Tony Parker scored 19 points Antonio Daniels chipped in 12 for San Antonio, which shot 40 percent (33-of-81) and had a seven-game winning streak snapped.
"The key was our defense was solid," Saunders said. "If we can continue to hold teams to 40 percent, change defenses with zoens and man and keep them off balance, we're going to have some success."
The Timberwolves seemed to be pulling away late in the third quarter when Anthony Peeler, who scored 10 points off the bench, nailed a 3-pointer to give them a 74-63 lead with 1:07 to go.
But Daniels responded with a 3-pointer before the period expired and Duncan matched Minnesota shot-for-shot, scoring the first 12 points of the fourth quarter for the Spurs.
San Antonio closed to 95-91 on a free throw by Robinson with 3:44 left, but Szczerbiak answered with a jumper. A jumper by Steve Smith again cut the deficit to four, but Szczerbiak responded again with a short jump shot.
Minnesota led, 93-84, with with 2:18 remaining, but Parker's 3-pointer capped a 7-2 burst to make it 95-91 with 31 seconds left. Brandon sank two free throws and, after a layup by Parker, Szczerbiak added two more to seal the victory.