San Antonio (13-8) at Minnesota (4-17)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Dec 12, 2008
  • TV: FSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With Manu Ginobili out, the San Antonio Spurs had to turn to other players for clutch shots early in the season.

Tony Parker delivered in a big way against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Spurs, rounding into form with their “Big Three” finally healthy, face the Timberwolves on Friday night for the first time since Parker’s huge game against them in November.

Ginobili missed the first month while recovering from offseason ankle surgery, leaving San Antonio (13-8) without the player it perhaps counts on the most when the game’s on the line. The Spurs lost their first three games before beating Minnesota 129-125 in double-overtime Nov. 5.

Parker scored a career-high 55 points, including a 20-footer at the buzzer to force a second OT. It was the best scoring game by an opponent in the Timberwolves’ 20-year history.

Parker was 22-of-36 from the field and added 10 assists and seven rebounds. The last NBA player to have at least 55 points and 10 assists in a game was Michael Jordan, who had 57 and 10 for Chicago against Washington on Dec. 23, 1992.

The veteran point guard helped give San Antonio a much-needed boost and its sixth straight win against Minnesota since a 103-101 overtime loss Jan. 3, 2007.

One game later, however, Parker rolled his ankle along the baseline in a loss to Miami, and he missed the next nine games. He returned against Memphis on Nov. 28, giving the Spurs their full complement of All-Stars for the first time this season.

Once-slumping San Antonio has gone 5-2 with Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan together and healthy.

Ginobili came back Nov. 24 at Memphis, and is coming off his best game of the season. He scored 27 points in a return to his sixth-man role to help San Antonio beat Atlanta 95-89 for its fourth straight victory.

Ginobili, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“He loves games like that. He loves to play in situations like that,” Duncan said. “It’s just great being able to give the ball to a guy like that and let him create moves and create shots.”

Ginobili started for the Spurs in the previous four games, including a demanding double-overtime victory Tuesday night, so he got an extra break at the beginning of the game against the Hawks.

The veteran guard is averaging 28.8 points in his last five games against Minnesota, shooting 69.7 percent (46-for-66) from the field and 67.6 percent (25-for-37) from 3-point range.

Minnesota (4-17) has been hurt by terrible shooting during a seven-game losing streak, making 42.0 percent from the floor and 27.9 percent from beyond the arc.

The Timberwolves were held under 100 points in six straight games before a 116-105 loss at Denver on Wednesday night. The defeat was their second since Kevin McHale took over as head coach Monday.

Al Jefferson led Minnesota once again with 26 points and 12 rebounds. He had 30 points and 14 boards in the first matchup with San Antonio.

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Friday, Dec 12