MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Being 0-3 really bothered Tony Parker.
The San Antonio Spurs needed every last layup and feathery jumper from the fast-moving Frenchman, whose unstoppable performance was just enough to fuel their first win.
Parker scored a career-high 55 points, including a 20-footer at the buzzer to force a second overtime, in San Antonio’s 129-125 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The Spurs avoided an 0-4 start for the first time since 1973, when they still played in the ABA.
“I just wanted to win so bad. I was going to try to do everything I can,” said Parker, whose previous best was a 38-point effort in January 2006 at Miami. “It’s just one of those games. Everything you do, it works. … Obviously, everybody knows if I make my jump shots, I can do whatever I want. Tonight was just one of those games that everything was working.”
After Al Jefferson backed down Tim Duncan and sank a turnaround hook to put Minnesota up 116-114 with 2 1/2 seconds left in the first overtime, Parker took the inbounds pass, dribbled right, pump-faked once and let the ball fly.
He let a sly smile creep across his normally stone face as the Wolves trudged back to the bench.
Jefferson, who had 30 points and 14 rebounds, paused to sit on the scorer’s table before play resumed and just shook his head as if to say, “What more can we do?”
Mike Miller had 12 of his 25 points in the first quarter for Minnesota, which held a nine-point lead twice but lost its edge late in the third while the Spurs closed with a 26-14 run.
The Wolves, who lost their third straight after winning their opener, threw everything they had against Parker, Duncan and the rest of the bunch.
“We’re getting chances. It took Tony making every shot for them,” Miller said. “We’ve got to figure out what we’ve got to do to win games. We’ll just keep plugging away.”
San Antonio picked up its sixth straight win and 11th in the last 12 meetings against Minnesota.
“I told our guys at the end of the game we could easily be 3-1, but the reality is we’re 1-3 and we’ve got to keep fighting,” Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. “I’m proud of their effort.”
Parker scored six of his team’s first eight points in the second overtime to stretch the lead to four, though Randy Foye made a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to one. The Spurs were in perfect position to rebound a pair of missed jumpers, before Parker finally went to the line with 19 seconds left and made it 128-125.
“I saw it in his eyes, man. I could tell,” said teammate Roger Mason, who had 26 points. “He was in that zone, like they say. He kept his foot on the pedal and just kept going and going and going. When a guy’s like that, who knows?”
That gave Parker the highest scoring output by any individual opponent in the Wolves’ 20-year history. Shaquille O’Neal had 53 points for Orlando in a game against Minnesota in 1994.
Parker was 22-of-36 from the field and added 10 assists and seven rebounds. According to sports researcher STATS, Inc., the last NBA player to have at least 55 points and 10 assists in a game was Michael Jordan. He had 57 points and 10 assists for Chicago against Washington on Dec. 23, 1992.
“Just an unbelievable effort, especially with the minutes he’s played to continue to push like that,” Duncan said.
Though their first two defeats were narrow, to Phoenix and Portland, the Spurs were sputtering with Manu Ginobili on the mend. Averaging nearly 31 points over San Antonio’s four victories over the Wolves last season, he sank an astounding seven of nine 3-pointers in each matchup at Minnesota.
Well, Parker more than did his part to fill the void, as he’s actually done all four times the Spurs have taken the court in Ginobili’s absence to an ankle injury. He’s been working on his outside shot, an effort that is clearly paying off.
“I have to shoot it with confidence,” he said.
After surviving their opener by two points over Sacramento, the Wolves went cold in losses to Dallas and Oklahoma City. Randy Foye missed all 10 of his shots against the Thunder after going 3-for-14 against the Mavericks, and Miller — whose arrival was designed to significantly upgrade their outside shooting— was 1-for-7 from behind the arc in those games.
Miller got it going in this one, though, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and sinking his share down the stretch. That was one solace the Wolves could take from this, despite yet another devastating last-second defeat. Miller went 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
“We flowed into things a lot better today. It wasn’t such a grind,” Wittman said.
Until Jefferson’s miss late in the third quarter, the Wolves made 33 straight free throws dating to the fourth quarter against Dallas two games ago. … Hockey and basketball crowds don’t often mix, but injured Minnesota Wild star Marian Gaborik was in attendance. … Duncan went 7-for-9 from the floor for 18 points over the third and fourth quarters.