Duncan returned Monday after missing two games because of a sprained right ankle and tightness in his back. He had 18 points and 13 rebounds in San Antonio’s 112-89 victory over the conference-worst New Orleans Hornets. The Spurs lost to Denver and Phoenix in Duncan’s absence.
“I felt really good, actually,” Duncan said. “Beno (Udrih) took open shots. Brent (Barry) did the same thing. Everyone shared the ball real well.”
Udrih, a 22-year-old rookie, scored a career-high 25 points. He made his first-ever start in place of Tony Parker, who missed his first game of the season with a quadriceps injury.
Barry, who had 17 points, started in place of Manu Ginobili. Ginobili sat out his third straight game with a strained groin.
“It’s real important for those guys to do that, because that’s the depth we talk about and haven’t seen for about a month,” coach Gregg Popovich said of Udrih and Barry.
Nazr Mohammed had his best game since coming to San Antonio on Feb. 24 in a trade with New York. He scored eight points in 21 minutes.
The Spurs are tied with the Suns for the best record in the NBA. Miami, which leads the Eastern Conference, is percentage points behind both teams with a 50-16 record.
The Timberwolves beat the Dallas Mavericks 100-91 on Tuesday, improving to 2-2 on a seven-game stretch against likely playoff-bound opponents. After facing San Antonio, Minnesota takes on Memphis and Houston.
Cassell, who had missed seven straight and 22 of the previous 33 games with a strained right hamstring, scored 15 points. Olowokandi, who missed nine games with an injured knee, had eight points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes. Griffin, who also missed nine games with an injured hand, had three points and eight rebounds but fouled out after 15 minutes. All three came off the bench.
The Timberwolves are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for ninth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot.