LeBron going back to Cavs:

Parker, Green make sure Spurs win 11th straight

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- So this is the difference between wondering and knowing.

Wednesday's game at Target Center featured two teams missing big stars. San Antonio was without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. The Timberwolves were, again, without Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and, because of a thigh bruise, Andrei Kirilenko.

The Spurs played like a team used to such nuisances. The Wolves played like a team desperate for answers. The result: A 104-94 win for the Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA (39-11), the best road record (17-9) and a team that is used to burying sub-.500 teams (21-1).

"They do have a confidence level," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his team, which won its 11th straight. "No matter who is on the court, they just execute."

Wednesday it was Tony Parker and Danny Green who led the way. Parker had a game-high 31 points and eight assists. Green? All he did was hit eight of 12 3-pointers on the way to a career-best 28 points.

"I don't know, man, it came out of nowhere," said Green, who scored half of his points in the fourth quarter, when the Spurs put the pedal down and took over the game. "Sometimes it happens that way. I got a little rhythm going, guys started looking for me, and they kept falling. We needed it."

A lot of thanks goes to Parker, who did a great job of penetrating and dishing, and to the Spurs' ball movement in general. But there is no question, San Antonio needed it.

Down four after three quarters, the Wolves -- who got double-doubles from center Nikola Pekovic (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Derrick Williams (15 and 12) and 11 assists from Ricky Rubio -- grabbed their last lead of the night on Mickael Gelabale's jumper with 7:45 left in the game.

Green took care of that. He hit three 3-pointers and had 11 points as the Spurs turned a 79-77 deficit into an 88-81 lead with 4:07 left.

The Wolves didn't threaten again. Indeed, after the Wolves took their brief lead, the Spurs finished the game on a 27-15 run.

For the Wolves, it was their second straight loss and their 13th in 15 games. The team continues to sink steadily in the Western Conference.

"I thought we really played pretty well for the most part," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We just made too many mental mistakes, especially defensively at crucial times in the fourth quarter."

The Spurs hit on halve of their 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, shooting 55 percent overall in the final 12 minutes

"We have gotten used to playing without them," Parker said of Duncan and Ginobili. "Obviously, we'd rather have them, because it would be a lot easier. But it definitely helps with the other guys to step up and play better."

Green wasn't the only one. Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds. Tiago Splitter had 12 points and seven boards. While in Minnesota injuries have derailed what the Wolves hoped would be a strong season, the Spurs continue to roll despite injury.

"I think we're pretty comfortable with each other," Green said. "We're confident in our young guys to come in and fill in for whoever is out. We've been doing this for a year now. Everybody here knows what to do."

NOTES: NBA commissioner David Stern was in Minneapolis for Wednesday's game between the Timberwolves and Spurs. While meeting with reporters, Stern said he thinks the NBA is on track to start testing players for human growth hormone as early as next season. That is the goal, though Stern said, "it's not a commitment, not a promise. It's an expectation" that it would happen by then. Stern said the NBA is watching how the NFL and Major League Baseball are gearing up to test for HGH. If those leagues get approval to test players the NBA will follow suit. "We're well on our way," Stern said. ... Wolves forward Kirilenko suffered a quadriceps strain on Monday. "It's kind of new to me -- never had the quad -- but I guess probably four, five days," said Kirilenko, who was awarded the EuroPlayer of the Year award before the game. Mickael Gelabale replaced Kirilenko in the starting lineup. ... The Spurs and Wolves rosters have a total of 15 players born outside the United States.
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