David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Manu Ginobili drives to the basket for two of his 44 points in Thursday's win at Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 21 (AP) - The San Antonio Spurs needed all of Manu Ginobili's 44 points to hold off the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ginobili hit a jumper from the top of the key with 6.2 seconds left for his final points, leading the Spurs to their fourth straight win with a 100-99 victory over Minnesota on Thursday night.
"Manu is a top caliber player, he's an All-Star caliber player,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's been on fire for a while now.''
Ginobili dribbled behind his back and rose up over Randy Foye on the winning shot.
"I always try to get to the rim, but Foye took over my left pretty good and my counter move is always step back right,'' Ginobili said. "I got lucky there, took a good shot and it went in.''
Minnesota had a chance to win, but
"I ended up wide open and took the shot,'' Telfair said.
Ginobili helped carry the Spurs to their eighth win in their last nine games and seventh in their last eight road contests.
The shooting guard had 19 points in the second quarter, hitting six straight 3-pointers in the final 6:33 of the period. He also scored 10 of San Antonio's first 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"I just felt like I wanted to take every shot because they were going in,'' Ginobili said. "I made five in a row I think, and most of them weren't just wide open. I wanted the ball in my hands because I was feeling confident.''
Al Jefferson led the Wolves with 28 points and converted a three-point play to give Minnesota the lead with 40 seconds remaining. The Wolves are using the season's final games to determine which pieces it wants to use as it rebuilds around Jefferson.
"We know we're not going to the playoffs this year,'' Telfair said. "We got to get what we can get out of the rest of these games. We need to keep learning.''
A questionable flagrant foul call on Telfair with 1:40 remaining didn't help Minnesota's bid for an upset. Telfair appeared to hit Ginobili in the face accidentally, but was whistled for the flagrant.
"Pretty much blows my mind,'' Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "Maybe I didn't see it right. It was a definitely a foul, but a flagrant foul?''
Tony Parker returned to the Spurs' lineup after missing three weeks because of an ankle injury. The point guard entered the game with 5:40 left in the first quarter and scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting. Popovich said before the game that he plans to work Parker into the lineup slowly and only played him 19 minutes.
"I felt pretty good for a first game,'' Parker said. "I just tried to get back in rhythm and get some wind and I'm OK, feel good.''
Not to be left out of the recent flurry of trades, the Spurs made a deal of their own before the deadline, acquiring Kurt Thomas from Seattle on Wednesday. The veteran post player should join the team this weekend, but would've helped to have on Thursday. Minnesota outscored San Antonio 50-30 in the paint.
"The West was already a monster, but now it's just ridiculous,'' Popovich said.
It also welcomed back veteran shot-blocking center Theo Ratliff. Ratliff missed the previous 45 games with a knee injury and scored eight points in 14 minutes.
Ratliff is unlikely to figure into the Wolves long-term plans, but the team would like to see how a shot-blocking center meshes with Jefferson, Foye and Rashad McCants.
Notes: The Wolves didn't move veteran forward Antoine Walker. Walker is making $8.5 million this season and $9.3 million next and would've welcomed a trade to a contender. ... Popovich said before the game that he doesn't anticipate any problems working Thomas into the regular rotation. "He's a veteran guy. It shouldn't be a problem,'' Popovich said. ... Jefferson topped the 2,000 career rebound mark in the third quarter.