MINNEAPOLIS – Manu Ginobili had 19 points, including five technical free throws in a 10-second span of the third quarter, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-96 on Tuesday night.
Richard Jefferson scored 17 and Tony Parker had 12 points and 13 assists for the Spurs, who beat the Timberwolves for the 16th straight time. Ginobili also had nine rebounds.
Kevin Love had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost five in a row and came unglued during referee Ken Mauer's five-technical binge in the third. Michael Beasley had just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting while playing on a sprained left ankle, and left late in the fourth quarter after aggravating the injury.
The Timberwolves rallied early in the third, trimming a 16-point deficit to 68-62 in the first 2½ minutes. But the game turned with 8:36 to play in the quarter when Mauer started handing out technical fouls almost faster than he could blow his whistle.
He gave one each to Darko Milicic and Corey Brewer for gesturing toward him on the same play, a rare occurrence even with the NBA making that a point of emphasis. Coach Kurt Rambis got up and went to Mauer to discuss the calls and after a very brief conversation, he was given two quick technicals and ejected.
Ginobili hit all four technical free throws, and the Spurs took possession. Ten seconds later, Love threw his arms up and hollered after officials did not call a loose-ball foul on Tim Duncan, and Mauer responded with a technical foul.
Ginobili knocked down his fifth technical free throw in 10 seconds, giving the Spurs a 73-62 lead.
Minnesota cut the lead to seven early in the fourth, but the veteran Spurs never got rattled like the young Timberwolves did. Parker hit two free throws and scored on a fast break, and Tim Duncan scored on an up-and-under to push the lead to 103-91.
San Antonio has won three in a row and 17 of 20 to improve to an NBA-best 32-6.
The Spurs have been the best team in the NBA all season long, but had all kinds of trouble with the lowly Timberwolves in their first three meetings. San Antonio won each time, but by a combined 13 points. The Spurs needed to roar back from 21 points down in this building to win in the first game in overtime, then edged the Wolves twice in San Antonio, including a 94-91 victory on Sunday.
NOTES: Luke Ridnour had 18 points and nine assists and Martell Webster scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half for Minnesota. ... With rookie James Anderson out with a stress fracture in his foot, the Spurs only had 11 active players. The NBA requires a team to have 12 active for every game, but the Spurs have a two-week waiver and Anderson is expected to return soon. ... Jefferson missed two alley-oop dunks in the second quarter.