Spurs roll to 123-101 victory over Timberwolves, who drop fifth straight



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SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have used a rash of injuries, timely rest and an odd schedule to their advantage.

Marco Belinelli was the latest beneficiary, using the added playing time available with two veterans sitting to regain some of the footing that made him invaluable last season.

Belinelli had 20 points and six assists, leading a balanced attack as San Antonio set a pair of season highs in rolling to a 123-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

The Spurs (15-5) had a season-high 30 assists and had their highest point total in winning their 10th in the past 11 games and fifth straight at home.

San Antonio had seven players in double figures, including 18 points each from Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph, and 17 from Boris Diaw. Tim Duncan had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Belinelli had 17 points in the first half as the Spurs rolled to a 68-51 lead.

"I think he is getting his rhythm," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He didn't come back in great shape. At this point, he is starting to feel pretty good. The injury held him up after he was trying to get into shape. He is just beginning to start the season really."

After missing eight games earlier this season with a strained right groin, Belinelli is beginning to show the versatility that made him one the team's most valuable reserves during its run to a fifth NBA championship.

Belinelli and Danny Green directed a balanced attack in place of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, who were both out with mild ailments.

"Everything is clicking," Green said. "(We're) moving the ball well, finding guys, penetrating to the basket, getting to the free throw line. (Belinelli) came out hot for us in the first half."

Zach LaVine had 22 points and 10 assists, and Shabazz Muhammad added 20 points for Minnesota (4-15), which has lost five straight.

Thaddeus Young's 18-footer on the game's opening possession gave the injury-depleted Timberwolves their only lead of the game.

"They're a championship ballclub," Young said. "They came out there and did exactly what they were supposed to do to a young team, which is hit us first and see how we respond. As you can see, we didn't respond well."

Playing the second night of a back-to-back without five injured players, including guards Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Mo Williams, Minnesota couldn't keep up with San Antonio's flowing offense.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Minnesota is 1-11 this season in back-to-back games, having lost 10 straight after defeating Detroit on Oct. 30 on the second night of its first consecutive contests. ... Glenn Robinson, the father of Minnesota F Glenn Robinson III, won an NBA championship in 2005 with the Spurs. . Minnesota has used 10 different starting lineups this season, and only one has a winning record. Young, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Williams and Martin won the only game they started collectively.

Spurs: Ginobili (left shoulder) was a late scratch, joining Parker (strained left hamstring) on the bench. ... San Antonio is 10-2 in back-to-back games this season. ... The Spurs are 11-0 when they have 25-plus assists. They are sixth in the league in assists at 24.0 per game after leading the NBA last season at 25.2.

TWO OUT OF THREE?

Before the game, Popovich said the only way Duncan was going to play the second night of a back-to-back was if the veteran forward knocked him out. Popovich bore no battle wounds after the lopsided victory, but Duncan played 18 1/2 minutes. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting along with 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. "He just wants to keep his rhythm," Popovich said. "It is early in the year, so we did it."

SPLITTER NEARING RETURN

Popovich said Spurs center Tiago Splitter, who has only played 10 minutes this season, could see limited minutes on Tuesday in Utah and/or Wednesday at home against New York. Splitter has been sidelined with tightness in his right calf, missing all but one game this season.

HISTORY MADE

With his 22 points and 10 assists, LaVine became the fourth teenager to record a double-double, joining LeBron James and Dajuan Wagner of Cleveland, and Minnesota's Stephon Marbury.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: Host Golden State on Monday.

Spurs: Visit Utah on Tuesday.

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