Timberwolves-Spurs Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 12, 2013
After failing to break out of their road funk despite Tony Parker's heroics, the San Antonio Spurs look to continue their dominance at home. The Spurs appear primed to get back in the win column and capture their 12th straight home victory Sunday night when they meet the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves. San Antonio has won 15 straight home games in the series by an average of 12.9 points and haven't lost to a visiting Minnesota team since the Kevin Garnett era in 2003-04. While they've dropped seven of nine on the road following a 101-98 overtime loss at Memphis on Friday night, the Spurs are riding their longest home winning streak since a franchise-record, 22-game run Dec. 3, 2010-March 4, 2011. Sunday's game is the first of three straight and seven of 10 at home. San Antonio (28-11) has scored 112.0 points per game in its last six at home, compared to 88.3 in regulation during its three-game losing streak on the road. Parker did all he could to help the team avoid another road defeat Friday when he scored 30 points and made a 27-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. He also opened the extra period with a 3, but the Spurs missed their final nine shot attempts. "That was an incredible shot by Tony to give us a chance to stay in the game and get five more minutes to figure it out," forward Tim Duncan said. Duncan is trying to figure things out, having shot 34.1 percent from the field over the past three games while averaging 11.3 points and 4.7 turnovers. "It's just like a hitter who doesn't hit for a while," coach Gregg Popovich said of Duncan's struggles. "What are you going to do? You just keep shooting. He keeps playing hard whether a shot goes in or out." The Spurs hope to stay effective from 3-point range after shooting 22 for 50 (44.0 percent) in their last two games. They had hit 28.8 percent in their previous three. San Antonio should be able to find good looks against a Minnesota team that has allowed its last four opponents to shoot 51.1 percent from 3-point range. After a promising 7-2 stretch which extended into mid-December, the Timberwolves (16-17) have dropped eight of 12. That slump includes a 1-6 mark on the road. They fell to 0-2 on a four-game road trip Friday, getting outscored by 24 points in the second and third quarters in a 104-92 loss at New Orleans. Minnesota has been without coach Rick Adelman, as well as star forward Kevin Love (hand) and key reserves J.J. Barea (back) and Chase Budinger (knee). Ricky Rubio has averaged 3.5 points and shot 6 for 27 (22.2 percent) from the field in eight games since returning from knee surgery. "Until we start getting some guys back, this is what we have and everybody has to do a little bit more," said assistant Terry Porter, who has served as coach the past three games. It's unclear when Adelman will return. He's been home with his wife, who was recently hospitalized. Center Nikola Pekovic has given the team a lift, averaging 20.3 points on 59.6 percent shooting and 12.3 rebounds over his last four games. Minnesota, though, has shot 26.0 percent from beyond the arc in its last seven road games and now faces a Spurs team which is among the league's best in defensive 3-point percentage (32.5). The Timberwolves won two of three against the Spurs last season but lost the last one, 116-100 in San Antonio as Duncan had 21 points and 15 rebounds.
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