Friday , Mar , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Benchmark: Duncan and Spurs rout T-Wolves

=== Benchmark: Duncan and Spurs rout T-Wolves ===

San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) – Tim Duncan returned to the San Antonio
lineup, scoring 22 points and adding 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs to a 106-86
win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at SBC Center.

Duncan, who had missed nine of the Spurs’ previous 10 games with a knee
injury, came off the bench to play 27 effective minutes.

“It was a choice I made to limit the minutes,” Duncan said. “[I’m] kind of
anxious to see what it’ll [the knee] do in the morning.”

Manu Ginobili added 15 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio, which ended
a two-game losing streak. Tony Parker chipped in with 16 points, six rebounds
and seven assists, as San Antonio drew within 1 1/2 games of the Timberwolves
for the lead in the Midwest Division.

Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolves, who have lost two
straight and three of four. Sam Cassell finished with 21 points, as Minnesota
fell three games back of the idle Sacramento Kings for the overall lead in the
Western Conference.

“This was a big game for both of us,” said Cassell.

Trailing 74-58 early in the fourth, the Wolves scored nine straight points to
pull within 74-67. Wally Szczerbiak scored the final seven points of the
burst, capping it with a jumper two minutes into the frame.

However, the Spurs answered with a 13-5 run to go ahead by 15 points. Duncan
and Ginobili combined to score all 13 of the Spurs’ points during the run,
capped by a Duncan free throw with 6:37 left.

After that the Wolves never threatened and the Spurs won going away.

Szczerbiak finished with 14 points, scoring 12 in the fourth quarter, while
Latrell Sprewell was held to only five points for Minnesota.

Trailing 12-10 early in the game, San Antonio went on an 11-2 run to go ahead
21-14 with 17 seconds left in the quarter. Minnesota would score the final two
points of the frame and go in the second down 21-16.

In the second, Minnesota tied it at 29-29 when Cassell hit a jumper a little
more than halfway through the stanza. However, San Antonio would go into the
break ahead 43-38.

The third quarter saw the Spurs open things up a bit. Two Duncan free throws
5:10 into the half extended the Spurs lead to 54-43 and capped a 9-0 run.
Then with 4:11 left Hedo Turkoglu nailed two from the line to extend to 60-49.
Later, Ginobili added two from the stripe for a 71-56 advantage and the Spurs
would head into the fourth ahead 72-58.

Turkoglu ended with 13 points and seven assists for the Spurs, who have won
five straight and eight of nine at home.