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Minnesota hands Spurs third straight loss

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- The Minnesota Timberwolves knew they were out of the playoffs and wanted to end their season on a positive note. There was no better way to do it that with a win against the Western Conference's No. 2 seed.

Derrick Williams scored 21 points to lead Minnesota to a 108-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night at AT&T Center, getting its first win in San Antonio since Jan 14, 2004.

San Antonio heads into the playoffs having lost three in a row. It's the Spurs' first three-game losing streak since April 2011.

Williams made 7 of 15 field goal attempts and had six rebounds and four assists in the season finale.

"I think we all want to win. It's been a long time since we won in this building," said Williams of the Timberwolves' 16-game losing streak in San Antonio. "We wanted to compete leading into next year. I think we won 31 games this season and we had eight, nine guys pretty much the whole year. I'm just glad we got this win."

Minnesota (31-51) finished the season with its best record since Kevin Garnett left in 2007. Despite the improvement, the Timberwolves missed the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

Chase Budinger scored 15 points and Ricky Rubio, who had his first triple-double the last time he faced the Spurs, scored 12.

Greg Stiemsma added 12 points, and Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea each had 10 as Minnesota, the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, went 12-for-29 from behind the arc. Budinger and Rubio each hit three 3-pointers.

"If you compete you have a chance, and tonight was one of those nights," said Minnesota coach Rick Adelman. "We shot the 3-pointers, and whenever we shoot the ball well from three, we generally have a good chance."

The Wolves outscored the Spurs 52-34 in the second half.

The Timberwolves were up by 16 points in the fourth quarter when Budinger got an assist from Barea and nailed a 3-pointer with two minutes left, making it 108-92.

The loss kept the Spurs reeling as the playoffs are about to begin.

San Antonio (58-24) headed into the game locked into the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Rather than rest his top players, coach Gregg Popovich opted to get them repetitions, as he saw his team let the top seed get away by losing seven of the last 10 games.

"The regular season is over and everybody will concentrate once we figure out tonight who we're playing," said Popovich. "The season begins again."

Manu Ginobili, out nine games with a strained right hamstring, and Tony Parker, who has played in 12 of the last 24 games, returned to the court to join Tim Duncan for the first time since March 29.

"We're in the playoffs," said Duncan when asked what the Spurs concerns were going into the second season. "We haven't played well for the last couple of games but we're in the playoffs. We got some time from Manu tonight. We're mostly whole for the first time in a long time. We're ready to go, so we'll start from there."

Duncan had 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Spurs.

Gary Neal added 17 points, Parker 15 and DeJuan Blair 10.

Parker finished the second quarter by scoring the Spurs' last 11 points, putting them up 61-56 at halftime. He scored all of his points and added six assists in the first half.

NOTES: Tracy McGrady, the seven-time All-Star forward who has spent the past year playing in China, was signed by the Spurs for the playoffs. McGrady fills the position vacated by Stephen Jackson, who was waived Friday. McGrady was in street clothes Wednesday alongside Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. ... The Spurs' fan appreciation night included a host of activities, giveaways and recognition throughout the game. Forward Matt Bonner addressed the fans before tipoff, thanking them for their support. ... San Antonio finished short of a 60-win season, but the Spurs have the best winning percentage of any NBA team in the last 16 years. They are 888-376 (.703) during that time. ... Adelman, who recently notched his 1,000th win as a coach, remains undecided about whether to continue coaching the Timberwolves. His wife has been battling health problems, and he may quit to assist her. He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently that his decision will come in "a couple of weeks." ... A moment of silence was held before the game, honoring the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

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