The Spurs look to avoid a second straight loss overall and make it six wins in a row over the Timberwolves when the teams meet at the Target Center on Wednesday.
Coming off convincing wins over Utah and Atlanta, San Antonio (23-9) never found its offensive rhythm Tuesday in an 82-78 loss at Cleveland.
Tony Parker scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and Tim Duncan posted his 18th double-double with 18 and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who were held to 10 third-quarter points and shot only 38 percent (28-of-73) from the field.
San Antonio played the final six minutes without coach Gregg Popovich, who was assessed two technical fouls and was ejected following a wild sequence that began with Duncan complaining about contact. Assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo ran the club down the stretch.
“I wanted to make it easy for him because that can be embarrassing for an official if he’s not sure if you want to go or not,” Popovich said. “I thought he did a great job.”
Duncan also wasn’t pleased with the officiating.
“I felt there was an inconsistent whistle,” Duncan said. “They got more points at a time which calls and shots were starting to go their way.”
Despite Tuesday’s loss, the Spurs maintained the league’s best road record at 11-4. They will try to avoid dropping two straight overall for only the second time in 2006-07.
San Antonio has not been bothered playing games on back-to-back nights, winning five times in seven opportunities this season.
Minnesota (14-15) will try to get back to .500 with its third straight home win and fifth in seven games overall.
Kevin Garnett broke out of his mini-slump with a season-high 32 points and 14 rebounds Monday as the Timberwolves overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 102-96 victory at Charlotte.
“The second half, I felt like we were a lot more aggressive defensively,” Garnett said. “Taking away some of the things they wanted to do early and making them go to their second and third options.”
Garnett was limited to a combined 27 points on 9-of-29 shooting in the previous two games with the NBA’s new synthetic ball. In his first game since the league switched back to the old leather ball, the nine-time All-Star connected on 12-of-18 from the field, scoring 13 points in the third quarter.
“Hallelujah for the (leather) ball, and we brought in ’07 with a win, so it was a pretty decent night,” Garnett said.
Jaric sat out Monday after aggravating a sprained right thumb Saturday at New Jersey. Jaric, averaging six points and 22.4 minutes a game this season, was to undergo an MRI Tuesday.
San Antonio held Minnesota to 26 second-half points in a 95-82 home victory on Dec. 13.
The Spurs have been very good defensively during their five-game win streak against the Wolves, limiting them to 85 points per game.