Tim Duncan led the Spurs in a 32-16 first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves that allowed the Spurs' aging stars (Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) to get out ahead early and rest later in a 116-100 win in San Antonio Wednesday night.
The Spurs won big on the night when they retired Bruce Bowen's uniform; his old teammates, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, were pivotal in getting the team a lead early that it held all night.
Duncan was extremely active and effective, scoring a game-high 21 points and pulling in 14 rebounds in his 24 minutes. The same went for Parker, who dished six assists before leaving after 10 minutes, and Ginobili led the Spurs with eight assists. San Antonio scored 15 baskets in the first quarter and assisted on 13 of those hoops. The Spurs finished with 29 assists on the night.
The Timberwolves were led by the 18 points and 11 assists of J.J. Barea and also got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Kevin Love. Minnesota was without emerging center Nikola Pekovic due to an ankle injury and the lack of size was evident throughout Duncan's big, if abbreviated, night.
Rick Adelman chose to go with Derrick Williams to start and play with Pekovic out and left Darko Milicic out of the rotation entirely. Milicic had started 23 games for the Timberwolves this season, but has been benched six of seven games since playing in L.A. on March 9.
Williams was moderately active (nine points, seven rebounds) but nobody on Minnesota was successful in trying to stall San Antonio's advantage on the glass, where the Spurs outrebounded Minnesota, 55-41, including yielding 16 offensive rebounds to the home team.
As the Spurs' lead grew and the game stabilized, Gregg Popovich could be sure to give his star some extra rest. Duncan came out with 2:15 left in the third quarter and didn't go back in.
Matthew Tynan over at Pounding the Rock notes San Antonio's special depth:
But just as it's happened over the course of the season, other Spurs have stepped up in their stars' stead. Stephen Jackson had his best game of his second stint in San Antonio (I know it's only been two games), Tiago Splitter filled the box score, Kawhi Leonard dropped 16 and nine boards, Gary Neal once again held down the backup point guard position and Danny Green contributed in all aspects, just as he's made a habit of throughout this year. It's just further proof of the depth and energy San Antonio possesses giving opponents fits.
For more on the Minnesota perspective,check out Canis Hoopus.