Ginobili's 21 points help Spurs defeat TimberwolvesJan 13, 2008 - 6:08 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- A strong third quarter propelled the San Antonio Spurs to a 105-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 22 points, including nine in the third to ensure the Spurs didn't lose their third straight game.
Tim Duncan added 15 points and nine rebounds and Tony Parker had 21 and eight assists for the defending champions.
It also was the 600th career victory for San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
As usual, though, the understated Popovich downplayed his accomplishment. When a reporter asked if it felt any different than the previous 599, he simply said, "No."
"Pop didn't bring it up," said Ginobili, who also had five steals. "I guess he's not into all those kinds of numbers, as well as we aren't into those things, either."
Popovich, though, was happy to talk about Jacque Vaughn's effort. Vaughn finished with no points but had three steals and a season-high eight assists.
"We ended up with a good win, and I thought Jacque was a major leader in that effort. His competitiveness tonight was great," Popovich said.
Down by one at halftime, the Spurs outscored the pesky Timberwolves, 31-21, in the third quarter for a 75-66 lead entering the fourth. Duncan and Ginobili combined to score 16 in the third.
"We didn't match their intensity in the second half," Timberwolves center Michael Doleac said. "Guys kept fighting hard, and we made a good run, but we just came up short again."
Michael Finley, who finished with 11 points, added two key 3-pointers, including one to open the second half. Parker then followed with a 19-footer that gave the Spurs a quick four-point lead.
In the final quarter, San Antonio never allowed Minnesota to get within striking distance.
"Today, we made some shots, but we are still not playing the way we should be," Ginobili said. "We are just not playing well. This was a very important game for us. We didn't play sharp, but we got the win, and that's something."
The Timberwolves got off to a blazing start but couldn't fully capitalize on their hot shooting.
Despite shooting nearly 60 percent, Minnesota, which has won only one road game this season, could manage only a 24-24 tie after Parker hit a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter.
As part of a 9-0 Spurs run in the second quarter, Matt Bonner hit back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Spurs a 30-28 lead with 9:51 left in the first half.
Both of Bonner's shots were assisted by Vaughn, who never seemed to concern himself with his stat line.
"Everyone has a role on this team," Vaughn said. "The idea is to figure out the role and relish it."
Ryan Gomes, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, hit a 3-pointer with 2:39 left in the first half that gave Minnesota a temporary advantage, but Jeremy Richardson, in his second game as a Spur, countered with a 3-pointer that recaptured the lead for San Antonio.
Gomes then converted on a fast break with three-tenths of a second left in the quarter that gave Minnesota a 45-44 halftime lead.
Al Jefferson paced Minnesota with 24 points and Rashad McCants added 17 for the Timberwolves, who are a league-worst 5-31.
"We had the momentum at the half in this one," Timberwolves guard Sebastian Telfair said. "We just didn't come out in the second half with the same momentum and confidence."
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