Looking to Build

In their first game after the All-Star break, the San Antonio Spurs shook off some early struggles to put together their best defensive effort of the season.

The defending NBA champions look to build on that win and continue their push for the Western Conference lead when they visit the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made San Antonio -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at X total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio -8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

San Antonio (35-17) defeated Charlotte 85-65 on Tuesday in its first home game in more than three weeks. The Spurs, owners of the top-ranked scoring defense in the West (91.0 points per game), allowed season lows in points and shooting (28.2 percent). They also outrebounded the Bobcats 54-38.

"Fortunately we played great defense tonight and they helped us out as well by not making shots," said guard Manu Ginobili, who scored 18 points. "We got in their faces and didn't give them any wide open looks."

The Spurs have won three straight and seven of eight.

While San Antonio's defense was suffocating, Tim Duncan had a tough time finding his shooting touch.

After averaging 22.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in San Antonio's final four games before the All-Star break, Duncan had just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting Tuesday, although he added 15 boards and five blocks.

"He's a human being, so some nights he might not score as much as one would like,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the 10-time All-Star. "But his defense at the rim and that sort of thing is always important to us. So he did what we wanted him to do.''

Duncan has 35 points and 23 rebounds in two games against Minnesota this season - both victories. The Spurs have won three straight over the Timberwolves and eight of the last nine meetings.

Tony Parker could return to San Antonio's lineup Wednesday after missing the last nine games with an inflamed left ankle. He's averaged 19.0 points and 8.5 assists in the two games against the Wolves this season.

"I think he'll get some minutes in Minnesota," Popovich said. "Not many, but he'll play."

Ginobili, averaging a team-high 20.0 points, is averaging 26.5 versus Minnesota in 2007-08 and shot 10-of-14 from 3-point range in those games.

Minnesota (11-41) defeated Philadelphia 104-88 on Tuesday to snap a five-game losing streak.

The Timberwolves have the worst record in the West, and are planning on using the rest of the season to figure out what direction the club will take in the future.

"These 30 games are important for us,'' Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "In my mind, and probably in management's mind, this is important to see how we're going to build this.''

One player who seems certain to be central to that future is forward Al Jefferson, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds against the 76ers. Jefferson, acquired in the Kevin Garnett trade, leads Minnesota with 21.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He's averaging 23.5 points and 7.5 boards against the Spurs this season.

Randy Foye, who missed the first three months of the season with a knee injury, made his first start of the season Tuesday and finished with 13 points and five assists.

Wittman paired Foye and Sebastian Telfair in the backcourt, and said he's not sure how long he'll go with that experiment.

"They'll determine that for me,'' Wittman said. "When you put new combos together, they'll tell me how it's working by how they play.''

San Antonio has won four of its last five at the Target Center.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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