Ginobili, Spurs move closer to top spot in WestMar 29, 2008 - 4:30 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) - Manu Ginobili scored 26 points off the bench as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 99-84, Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The fourth quarter belonged to Ginobili, who poured in 16 fourth-quarter points in helping the Spurs (50-23) move within percentage points of the New Orleans Hornets (49-22) for first place in the Western Conference.
Tony Parker had 18 points and Michael Finley added 16 for San Antonio, which extended its winning streak to six games en route to its ninth straight 50-win campaign.
"It was a good effort; we got to play a lot of guys," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Hopefully, we get enough rest and persevere in this tough month. We have a big challenge come Sunday (against Houston) and we'll try for that."
With the game still within reach for Minnesota, Ginobili scored 11 straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 88-70 with 6:14 remaining.
"I was frustrating with the way they came back at us, so I started being aggressive and every shot went in," Ginobili said. "It's a snowball effect, every shot I started taking, started to go in."
"We felt a little bit of pressure," Spurs forward Ime Udoka said. "We went from 20 to I think six pretty quick so we just buckled down, Manu hit some big shots, took the over the game and gave us a big lead."
All of Parker's points came in the first half. The speedy guard had a field day on fast breaks, taking every opportunity to run the open floor against Minnesota's poor transition defense.
Ryan Gomes drilled a 3-pointer during an impressive 12-0 surge to slice Minnesota's deficit to 61-54 with 3:18 left in the third.
Minnesota closed the quarter by outscoring San Antonio, 20-7, to draw within 68-62 heading into the fourth. Udoka's shot from the arc with 38 seconds left in the quarter was the first field goal for the Spurs since 6:43 left.
Gomes had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Al Jefferson added 14 and eight for the Timberwolves, who fell to 5-30 away from the Target Center this season.
"We need to ge more aggressive with out shooting and learn to drive to the basket," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "I think we went to our bench very early during the fourth quarter and lost our momentum."
SAN ANTONIO 99 FINAL
Mar 28 10:43 PM
SAN ANTONIO 68 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 28 10:12 PM
SAN ANTONIO 49 HALFTIME
Mar 28 9:30 PM
SAN ANTONIO 14 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 28 9:02 PM
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