MINNEAPOLIS, March 1 (Ticker) --
With power forwards Tim Duncan
and Kevin Garnett
shutting each other down, it was up to the role players to make big shots down the stretch.
made a clutch 3-pointer with just under a minute left and rookie Tony Parker
scored four of his six points in the final 24 seconds as the San Antonio Spurs held on for an 85-77 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves never led after halftime but rallied from an 11-point deficit within 78-75 on a basket by Anthony Peeler with 4:23 remaining. Both teams went to their All-Star forwards, who defended each other perfectly.
Duncan missed three shots and Garnett misfired on a pair as the score remained intact for more than three minutes.
NBA TV highlights from Spurs-Timberwolves:
Tim Duncan added to his league-leading total with his 47th double-double of the season.
"We had no offensive flow," said Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who saw his team score two points in the final four minutes. "We had opportunities and couldn't get into our offense. We just didn't get the ball to the right guys down the stretch."
Minnesota’s Wally Szczerbiak
, also an All-Star, missed three shots during the stretch before Smith buried a 3-pointer for an 81-75 cushion with 57 seconds to go.
"I'm a professional. At the end of the night, and there's a play at the end, I'm going to hit a big shot or do something," Smith said. "I've been in this situation a million times and I want the situation."
Garnett finally broke through and made a layup nine seconds later, but Parker responded with an acrobatic layup with 21 seconds left to restore the six-point edge. The 19-year-old point guard added a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Duncan collected 25 points and 11 rebounds and David Robinson
added 18 and eight as the Spurs avoided their third straight road loss.
"We're a little up-and-down right now," Duncan said. "We're by no means done. We're far from done. We're looking to peak at the right time and this is a good place to start."
Smith finished with 12 points and Malik Rose added 10 and eight rebounds off the bench for San Antonio, which outscored Minnesota, 54-26 in the paint.
"We're more of an inside team than they are," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Our strength is inside and their strength is transition and shooting jumpers."
"We attacked them down low," Duncan said. "We did a grat job down there of sucking the defense in and kicking the ball out."
Garnett nearly recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Szczerbiak scored 15 of his 21 points in the third quarter for the Timberwolves, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
"It was a playoff-type game and we let it get away from us," Szczerbiak said. "They came at us and we didn't come out with the edge we needed."
collected 10 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which shot only 42 percent (32-of-76) and was 4-of-14 from 3-point range.
The Spurs had their largest lead, 56-44 after Steve Smith sank a free throw with 5:56 remaining in the third quarter. They had a 53-62 lead before the Timberwolves scored seven of the period’s final 10 points.
Szczerbiak provided all the offense during the burst, nailing a 3-pointer and fadeaway jumper before beating the buzzer with a runner to bring Minnesota within 65-60.
sank a pair of jumpers as the Spurs extended their lead to 72-62 with 9:30 remaining. But the Timberwolves responded with an 11-4 spurt.
Szczerbiak sparked the run with a running jumper and capped it with a 12-footer to make it 76-73 with with 5:03 to go, but the All-Star guard would not score again.
Duncan and Robinson each scored eight points in the first quarter for the Spurs, who took the lead for good, 16-14 on a jumper by Malik Rose
with 1:42 remaining.