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The San Antonio Spurs’ depth has allowed for a relatively

successful first week without Tony Parker.

That depth will be further tested with neither of their starting

forwards available.

Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard did not travel with the team due to

sore knees, leaving the Spurs extremely short-handed Tuesday night

as they go for a 20th victory in 22 meetings with the Minnesota


San Antonio (49-15) has won three of four games since losing

Parker to a sprained ankle on March 1, but now Duncan and Leonard

also will be missing due to sore knees.

Each of them played 35 minutes while combining for 30 points

Monday as the Spurs pulled within a victory of their 15th straight

50-win campaign in a non-lockout-shortened season by beating

Oklahoma City 105-93.

The Spurs are 6-2 overall this season without Parker in the

lineup, and they’re 8-2 minus Duncan.

While Tiago Splitter had 21 points with 10 rebounds Monday and

fellow starter Danny Green added 16, Manu Ginobili (12 points) and

Boris Diaw (11) contributed off the bench in a balanced effort.

“We had a lot of great play from the bench,” Duncan said. “That

second squad came in there and kind of changed the tempo and took

control of the game.”

At least a pair of those reserves – possibly Diaw and Ginobili –

will head to the starting lineup Tuesday.

Those new starting forwards will play alongside Splitter, who

has three double-doubles in five games this month. San Antonio is

21-4 since beating Minnesota 106-88 on Jan. 13.

“I think everybody played well,” Splitter said. “I was one of

them. You play well and you feel better. You want to play well

against these kinds of teams, these playoff teams. Of course, we’ve

got to stay humble.”

The Spurs surely could use another strong game from Green, who

scored a career-high 28 points in a 104-94 win at Minnesota on Feb.

6 to end a two-game road skid in the series.

The Timberwolves (21-39) have the fewest wins in the Western

Conference and have lost seven of eight after falling 100-77 to

Dallas on Sunday. Derrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds

for Minnesota, which is 6-25 since Kevin Love broke his hand again

Jan. 3.

“You have to find a way. The coaching staff is trying to find a

way to come up with a game plan,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We are

trying figure out what else can we do. There is no easy answer but

you have got to. There are 20-plus games left and we have to find a

way to get something going.”

Minnesota didn’t do itself any favors by shooting 36.4 percent

from the field. It has hit 39.2 percent over the last seven


“You can defend the (heck) out of people, but if you can’t make

shots in this league you’re in trouble,” Adelman said. “That’s

what’s happening to us. Game after game, we just really struggle to

put the ball in the basket.”

It likely won’t get any easier against a Spurs team that prides

itself on defense. San Antonio is holding opponents to 43.9 percent

shooting on the season, with Minnesota hitting only 38.8 percent

from the field over this season’s two meetings.

“No team ends up being a really good team without playing good

‘D,’ ” coach Gregg Popovich said. “It’s always about defense. If

you don’t play good defense, you’re nothing in this league.”