By NOEY KUPCHAN, Associated Press
Sitting a few games out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Minnesota Timberwolves know they need to put a few wins together.
Building on their latest result, though, could prove difficult with a matchup against the conference's best team up next.
The Timberwolves try to make it two in a row when they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
Minnesota (18-18) has alternated wins and losses over its last seven games after blowing out Charlotte 119-92 on Friday. Nikola Pekovic led the way with 26 points while Kevin Love and Kevin Martin added 19 apiece.
"We just need to have one good streak and then we're right back where we need to be," said Love, who added 14 rebounds and rested for most of the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves shot 54.5 percent - their third-highest mark this season - and outscored the Bobcats 54-40 in the paint. They also held a whopping 54-33 rebounding edge, including 12-4 on the offensive glass.
"If we can do it consistently, this team's going to be great," backup guard J.J. Barea said. "You just got to stay with it. It's a long season. You've got to keep getting better. We're going to have a chance. You gotta take advantage. To come out here and beat a team by (more than) 20 is awesome. So hopefully we can get a run in and win a couple in a row."
While there was some tension in the locker room after Minnesota dropped to 0-10 in games decided by four points or fewer with Wednesday's 104-103 loss to Phoenix, the team appears to have moved on.
"We did a good job of letting the other night go," Barea said. "We forgot about that already. Now we're back winning, so we've just got to keep it going."
Doing so won't be easy against the Spurs (28-8), who have won six of seven while averaging 111.4 points. San Antonio is surely eager to get back on the court for the first time since Wednesday's 112-90 rout of Dallas, its third consecutive victory.
Tony Parker committed a season-high six turnovers but posted 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and Marco Belinelli scored 17 off the bench. The Spurs, who shot 52.6 percent, are 15-0 when making more than half their shots.
Belinelli has gone 13 of 20 from 3-point range in averaging 16.6 points over the last five games, well above his season mark of 10.8. The Italy native is shooting an NBA-best 50.4 percent from 3-point range.
"He's playing great basketball, so we should take advantage of that," Parker said. "He makes shots and he creates, and when (opposing teams) have to guard him, it creates more space for me to penetrate."
Tim Duncan has also come up big of late, posting 19.7 points and 13.7 rebounds during a stretch of three straight double-doubles.
Although San Antonio has taken 25 of 30 from Minnesota, these teams have split the last eight matchups. Parker, averaging 23.8 points during a four-game stretch in the series, finished with a season-high 29 in a 117-110 victory Dec. 13.
Love scored 42 that night while making a career-high eight 3s. The All-Star forward is averaging 32.6 points in his last seven road games.
"He was on fire against us last game, so we'll try to do a better job on the pick-and-rolls and try to limit him," Parker said.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is uncertain to play after missing Wednesday's game with a hamstring injury. He scored 20 against the Timberwolves last month.