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The last time the Spurs and Timberwolves met, Kevin Love lit up San Antonio for 42 points in a Minnesota loss.

This time, the Spurs kept Love in check with 14 points and Tony Parker matched that with 14 of his own and a season-high 10 assists while leading San Antonio (29-8) to a 104-86 win over Minnesota (18-19) in front of 18,098 fans at the AT&T Center Sunday, Jan. 12.

“The team, in general, was great. We had a great third and fourth quarter defensively,” said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks. “We did a much better job keeping them off the offensive glass, and we were able to get a lead and just keep it. It was great.”

Matt Bonner added a season-high 14 points for the Spurs, going 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range as part of a much-needed bench scoring effort.

The Spurs bench combined for 51 points despite the absence of bench guru Manu Ginobili, who was nursing a left hamstring injury for the second straight game.

“Our second unit did a good job, especially in the second half, of holding the fort down,” said Bonner. “Guys like myself, who might see inconsistent minutes during the season, work hard on off days, even on game days, to keep our wind up and stay sharp so we can come in and help the team win games. We pride ourselves on being a team, one through 14 or 15, and everybody’s ready to step in and contribute.”

The Spurs bench came into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, before outscoring the Timberwolves 23-15. Starter Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. Duncan had to play only about two minutes of the final quarter, while Boris Diaw and Parker did not play the entire fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves struggles came from a 35 percent shooting night in which the trio of Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Love shot 8-for-34 for 27 points. It was only Nikola Pekovic who had any success against the Spurs, scoring 22 points and collecting six rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.

“They played a very physical game. They were very aggressive, and we played into that,” Timberwolves Head Coach Rick Adelman said. “We just have to play much better than that against a quality team.”

Both the Spurs and Timberwolves are two of the better passing teams in the league. Despite playing without three of their key players, the Spurs had 31 assists on 42 field goals and never skipped a beat, consistently making the extra pass.

“That’s just Spurs basketball,” Love said about the Spurs’ ball movement. “They’re very unselfish; they make the extra play and that’s tough to beat, especially when they have a couple of Hall-of-Famers in there.”

The emphasis on taming Love, who is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds a game, was something that continued from the fourth quarter of their last meeting, when Diaw’s physicality slowed him down.

“He definitely got our attention, if nothing else,” Duncan said. “He’s one heck of a player having a great year. I thought the guys did a great job between Matt (Bonner) and Boris (Diaw). Those guys did a great job, Jeff (Ayres) as well, of staying up in his chest and not letting him get clean shots off.”

The injury bug has been minimal this season for San Antonio, but it struck again as Danny Green left early in the first quarter with what was called a sprained left index finger. Green did not return to the game and will, unfortunately, miss the next four weeks.

“It’s a big loss for us. Hopefully tomorrow we get Manu (Ginobili) back, so that covers up that hole a little bit,” Duncan said. “At the same time, Danny’s a big loss for us.”

The Spurs head out for their eleventh back-to-back stretch of the season when they visit Anthony Davis and the Southwest Division foe New Orleans Pelicans (15-21) at the New Orleans Arena on Monday, Jan 13. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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