Spurs-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

Tim Duncan said he isn't going to stop shooting despite his struggles from the floor. A busy week will provide him with a lot of opportunities to get things going.

Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs look to win their 17th straight over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

While San Antonio will play two sets of back-to-back games later this week, the Spurs (3-1) have a chance to begin the stretch on a favorable note against Minnesota. They have won 16 in a row over the Timberwolves since a 103-101 overtime loss Jan. 3, 2007, on the road.

San Antonio is coming off a 104-89 victory over Utah on Saturday, going 10 of 16 from 3-point range while holding the Jazz to 37.1 percent shooting.

Manu Ginobili scored 23 points, DeJuan Blair had 17 and 10 rebounds and Tony Parker added 14 points and eight assists.

The performance seemed to lend credence to coach Gregg Popovich's approach in a 105-85 loss to Houston on Thursday. Popovich, who recorded his 800th career victory against the Jazz, pulled his veterans early and said he's willing to do that again in order to keep his veterans fresh during the compact schedule.

Though the Spurs starters looked rested against Utah, Duncan's shooting struggles continued.

After playing less than 16 minutes against the Rockets, Duncan finished with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting Saturday, although he seemed to get things going late. He was 1 of 7 from the field in the first half.

"Getting just about every shot I want, just can't put them in the hole," he said. "But I'm going to stick with it and hopefully down the stretch or the next couple of games I can get it going."

While San Antonio swept the four-game series against Minnesota last season, one went into overtime and two others were decided by a combined nine points. The Spurs could be in for another tough one against the Timberwolves (1-3) on Monday.

Kevin Love finished with 25 points and 17 boards in a 99-82 win over Dallas on Sunday for Minnesota's first win.

Although the Timberwolves had lost 18 straight dating back to last season, their first three losses in 2011-12 were by a combined nine points.

"It's a new year,'' said Love, who hit 5 of 6 from 3-point range. "We're the best team in 2012 right now. We feel good. We've got the monkey off our back."

Love was a big factor in keeping Minnesota's games against San Antonio close last season, averaging 23.8 points and 19.3 rebounds.

Besides defending Love, San Antonio will have to keep its eye on rookie Ricky Rubio, particularly late in games.

Rubio, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, scored a season-high 14 points and had seven assists against Dallas on Sunday. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter, playing all 12 minutes.

Twenty-one of his 38 points have come in the final quarter, when Rubio has gone 7 for 10 with 14 assists.

"I worked a lot this summer on shooting jump shots and all the stuff. When you work hard, things (are) coming,'' he said.

The Timberwolves could be without Michael Beasley after he injured his index finger.