On the night the San Antonio Spurs honored Bruce Bowen by retiring his number 12 jersey and adding it to the rafters among Spurs icons, it was number 21 who showed he’s not quite ready to give up his jersey just yet as the Spurs cruised to a 116-100 home win.
“This is the Tim I have always known. He is moving great. From watching him last year to now, he definitely looks like the old Tim Duncan,” newly-acquired Spurs guard Stephen Jackson said. “To get where we want to be, we are going to need him to play like that.”
The Spurs started the first quarter hitting the offensive glass and taking away one of Minnesota’s biggest weapons. The Spurs set the pace with five offensive rebounds on the first possession alone.
Tim Duncan and Danny Green helped the Spurs take an early lead against the Timberwolves while the Spurs’ second unit, especially Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson, kept the pressure, contributing five points apiece to the Spurs 32 first quarter points.
A three-pointer by Jackson with just over one second remaining in the quarter gave the Spurs a 16 point lead 32-16.
The Timberwolves would fire back in the second quarter, going on an 8-0 run to get back within single digits while the Spurs struggled from the field. Jackson and Green paced the Spurs with six points apiece to give the Spurs a 31-24 lead entering halftime.
The Spurs quickly jumped out to a quick 6-0 run after halftime, with Duncan knocking down six of the Spurs’ first eight points of the quarter. A Martell Webster dunk midway through the third quarter would narrow the lead to 13 points, but the second unit came back in and widened the gap to a dominating 20-point lead before the final quarter.
With Tony Parker back in the locker room due to tightness in his left hamstring, and Duncan sitting out the fourth quarter, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich relied on a guard-heavy lineup that included Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili, Jackson, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter to lead the Spurs to their 30th win of the season.
“The mindset was the same. We tried to get everybody involved and create,” Ginobili said. “This did not change much. You know your role and it is just different. I think we did pretty well.”
As was the case early on, the Spurs scrapped for rebounds on both sides of the floor to limit opportunities for the Timberwolves, and on the way picked up a season high 56 rebounds to the Wolves’ 41.
Duncan lead six Spurs in double figures. In just 24 minutes, Duncan finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot.
In Jackson’s first home game since being acquired by the Spurs at the trade deadline, he displayed a hot shooting touch from the outside and the aggressiveness that made him a fan favorite here nine years ago. Jackson was among three Spurs finishing with 16 points, including Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal.
“We won. That’s what I am all about. I am glad to be here on a team that wins,” Jackson said. “It feels good to finally get back on the court and get this first home game out of the way. To be able to get out there and win this game is great.”
Tonight’s win was the Spurs’ 18th at home and brought the Spurs within 3.5 games of the first place Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Spurs are back home again on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks.