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Spurs roll to 116-100 win over Wolves despite losing Parker to injury early

Spurs roll to 116-100 win over Wolves despite losing Parker to injury early

Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com

Former Spurs forward Bruce Bowen speaks to fans during the ceremony held to retire his jersey number Wednesday night as Manu Ginobili, l-r, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan listen.

by David Flores / Kens5.com

kens5.com

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 1:27 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 22 at 2:25 AM

It was the 44th game of the NBA season for the Spurs and their opponent was a team that will be hard pressed to make the playoffs.

But there was hardly anything pedestrian about Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.

Led by Tim Duncan, who finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, the inspired Spurs rolled to a 116-100 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves before a sellout crowd of 18,581.

All-Star point guard Tony Parker scored only two points but had six assists before going to the locker room with a left hamstring strain with 8:03 left in the second quarter. He did not return to the floor after leaving the game.

"I think they said mild hamstring, so we won't know much until tomorrow," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Even without Parker, the Spurs (30-14) made short work of the Wolves (23-25) in winning their fourth consecutive game.

Afterward, most of the fans stayed to watch the franchise honor former Spurs forward Bruce Bowen by retiring his jersey number (12) in a ceremony that was both poignant and light.

Bowen became the seventh Spur to have his jersey number retired, joining Johnny Moore (00), Avery Johnson (6), James Silas (13), Sean Elliott (32), George Gervin (44) and David Robinson.

Defense was Bowen's calling card

Bowen, one of the NBA's best lockdown perimeter defenders during his eight-year career with the Spurs, helped the team win three league titles in five seasons before retiring in 2009.

Meeting with reporters at midcourt after the ceremony, Bowen talked about his connection with Spurs fans and how much pride he took in his blue-collar work ethic.

"I wanted to make sure that, yeah, you may not be able to be Tim or Manu (Ginobili) or Tony on the court," Bowen said. "But what Bruce does, you can probably be that. That was the biggest thing. When I came out, I wanted to leave everything on the floor.

"I think that's why so many people have an affection for me. I may not be able to knock down a shot, but I can hustle. I can get after it. I can do different things. That's the thing I'm most proud of is when I hear people say things like 'Oh, Bruce, you're my favorite.' I know it stems from something heartfelt more than anything else."

With Bowen looking on from a front-row courtside seat, the Spurs led the Wolves from wire to wire and had five other players score in double figures. Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal each finished with 16 points and Danny Green and Tiago Splitter had 14 and 11, respectively.

Ginobili, who shared time with Neal at point guard after Parker was sidelined, scored only nine points but dished out a team-high eight assists.

Acquired last week in the trade that sent Richard Jefferson to Golden State, Jackson had a red-letter night in his first game at the AT&T Center since he helped the Spurs win their second NBA title in 2003.

Jackson came off the bench and hit 6 of 9 field-goal attempts, including 3 of 4 from 3-point land, in 21 minutes and 58 seconds. A small forward, Jackson played with the Spurs for two seasons (2001-03) and started every game in the 2003 NBA Finals against New Jersey. The Spurs beat Jersey 88-77 in Game 6 at the AT&T Center to close out the series.

Jackson gave Spurs long-ball threat

Jackson was direct when asked how felt in his first game back at the AT&T Center as a Spur.

"We won," he said. "That's what I am all about. I am glad to be here on a team that wins. It feels good to finally get back on the court and get this first home game out of the way. I did not have too many jitters because I have been doing this for a long time. To be able to get out there and win this game is great."

Jackson made his first three 3-point attempts before missing his fourth from beyond the arc.

"A lot of those shots just came through the offense and gave me wide-open looks," Jackson said. "We practice this every day and these are the shots we are going to get with this offense. We just need to knock them down."

Duncan, who hit 9 of 19 field-goal attempts while playing 24 minutes and 19 seconds, was aggressive from the get-go. He had 10 points in the first quarter and scored four consecutive baskets at one point in the period.

"Tim's been really fresh all year long," Popovich said. "I'm really enthused about his health and his body, the way he's taking care of himself. He's got quickness and he's got more agility than he's had in a while. He's had it for the whole season, so it's been to watch."

Jose Barea led Minnesota with 18 points. Kevin Love, who entered the game averaging 25.9 points, finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

The Spurs play the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the AT&T Center. The game will be the first of three in a row on consecutive nights for the Silver & Black. San Antonio plays at New Orleans on Saturday and entertains Philadelphia on Sunday.

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