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Parker pushes Spurs past Timberwolves

Dec 13, 2008 - 4:59 AM By Jim Beilby PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Tony Parker scored 16 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the San Antonio Spurs to their season-high fifth straight win Friday, a 98-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Tim Duncan had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Manu Ginobili added 16 points off the bench for the Timberwolves.

San Antonio had the "Big Three" all in the game and healthy for the first time against Minnesota this year.

In their last meeting, Ginobili was still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Parker filled the void by scoring a career-high 55 points in a 129-125 double-overtime victory for San Antonio. Parker's 55 points are both a Target Center high and a Wolves' opponent high.

Parker was very quiet in the first three quarters in this one but, with Duncan and Ginobili on the bench in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, he scored eight straight points as the Spurs built a 16-point lead at 76-60.

"Parker was fantastic," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He had no turnovers and probably close to 10 assists. That's a great example of controlling the tempo and he played great down the stretch."

Al Jefferson had 29 points and 13 rebounds Randy Foye added 19 points for Minnesota in the losing effort.

"We do feel that this was not our best game of the trip, but we pulled it out and got a win," Ginobili said. "We matched their intensity in the second half and came out with a win."

Since Ginobili returned from ankle surgery, the Spurs are 7-2. Without him, they were 6-6.

In four victories against Minnesota last year, Ginobili averaged 30.8 points per game and led his team in scoring each game.

With their victory, the Spurs prevented Kevin McHale from getting his first victory in this, his most recent stint as Timberwolves head coach. He was 19-12 in the final 31 games of the 2006 season while guiding Minnesota, which has now lost its last eight games.

"It definitely puts Mac (Kevin McHale) in a tough spot," Mike Miller said of Minnesota's stretch of three games in four nights. "We haven't had time to practice since he's taken over. It's new for him and hard for us."

Minnesota and San Antonio traded six-point leads in the first half but went into the locker room at halftime tied at 41-41.

Despite Minnesota's 54-26 advantage in points in the paint, San Antonio built a nine-point lead at the end of the third quarter at 66-57.

"Offensively, we couldn't get anything going in the second half," McHale said. "We missed a bunch of layups and everybody starts hanging their heads. You can't get much better than layups and we're missing them, but I know those will go in.

"What we can't have is hanging our heads and that leads to mental breakdowns."