Less than two days after finding out Tony Parker(notes) would not return in the regular season, Manu Ginobili(notes) said the rest of the San Antonio Spurs needed to step up their games. Ginobili has definitely done his part.
Expected to start for the third straight game Friday night at Target Center, Ginobili will try to help San Antonio win its 11th in a row over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Spurs (37-25) learned Monday that Parker, the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, would not need surgery for a broken right hand suffered in Saturday’s 102-92 victory at Memphis, but he would be out until at least the start of the playoffs.
“I am still optimistic that we can get it done with the players we have here, but it will take a great effort,” Ginobili said before scoring a season-high 38 points in Monday’s 97-95 loss at Cleveland.
That game marked his first start since November and he started again Wednesday, finishing with 28 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 97-87 victory over New York. San Antonio improved to 6-6 without Parker.
“The last two games I had the opportunity to score more, some others I’m going to pass,” said Ginobili, averaging 22.2 points and 6.2 assists as the Spurs have won five of six. “It’s about everybody doing a little bit more.”
Ginobili has done plenty recently at Minnesota, averaging 27.6 points in his last five games there.
In a 117-99 home win Dec. 29 in these teams’ only meeting of the season, the Spurs posted their 10th consecutive victory over the Timberwolves as Ginobili had 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
“(Ginobili) just creates so much havoc with his energy,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “His ability to crash the glass, get steals, play defense, shoot long shots, penetrate and find guys open … He just plays an unorthodox style of basketball that makes it difficult to cover.”
The Timberwolves (14-51) haven’t covered anyone well lately, allowing 107.2 points per game while dropping 13 of 14.
Minnesota lost its seventh straight overall and seventh in a row at home Wednesday, 110-102 to Denver.
“Losing, it weighs on you,” Rambis said. “Everybody’s frustrated. This is where you look at people’s character and see what they do. Your options are to roll over or to fight.”
Before opening a four-game trip Sunday in Sacramento, Minnesota will try to snap a five-game home losing streak to San Antonio.
With Ryan Hollins(notes) completing a two-game suspension for two run-ins with Dallas on Monday, Darko Milicic(notes) is expected to start opposite Duncan after grabbing a season-high 12 rebounds against the Northwest-leading Nuggets.
San Antonio has won 15 of 16 in this series.