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PtR QuickCap: Spurs Destroy Wolves 117-99, Manu Ginobili is All-Powerful

[UPDATE: added video of Manu's behind the back pass to Blair]

Yeah, that was pretty nice. An 18-point win in a game that had the potential to be a tremendous letdown is always a good thing.

Want to know what else is a good thing? Manu Ginobili is back to being Manu Ginobili. That man simply dominated the Wolves tonight. If not for Pop's minute-watching ways, he likely would have finished with a triple double.

But it wasn't just Manu. The Spurs ran a clinic in team passing, to go along with 8 steals and 7 blocked shots. All 4 of the team's "stars" had great performances, along with the new starting power forward, and the lone designated 3-point shooter remaining in uniform. So what if it was the T-Wolves? Let's give them the praise they deserve after the jump.

Box Score | Canis Hoopus | Yahoo Recap

First Half

The Spurs got off to a rough start, seeming to not take the young, talented T-wolves starters seriously. Especially on defense. They were even down by 6 points late in the first quarter, before Pop called timeout and ripped into them. After that, the Spurs came out and started challenging everything. It's amazing what getting some stops on the defensive end can do for your offense. It's also amazing what Ginobili can do when he's on. Manu and Money Mase brought the Spurs back quickly with 3-point shooting and generally great playmaking on the offensive end, to go along with the better defense played in the last few minutes of the first quarter. The Spurs ended the quarter up by 5.

In the second quarter, the Spurs blew the game wide open with great team offense. Tony, Manu, Roger(early in the quarter) and Richard all did their part, leading the team to a 37-point explosion in the quarter. The Spurs' defense was still playing well in the quarter, even though the pace of the game increased dramatically. Despite scoring 52 points in the first 24 minutes, the Wolves only shot 39% during that timeframe. Here, have some highlights, and be sure to check out the sequence from 0:42 - 0:45 for sheer amazingness.

Second Half

After intermission, the Spurs continued the onslaught, if at a slower pace. There were lots of great passes inside to Blair, but he couldn't seem to finish any of the shots(seriously, he should have had 20 points tonight, if he just made his layups). Blair did, however, make 5 free throws in a row, seeming to justify Chip Engelland's recent work with him. The Spurs won the 3rd quarter less impressively than the first two, 23-21.

The 4th quarter opened with Rage making 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. The offense then branched out to everyone else on the floor, but Manu assisted on 4 of the Spurs's first 6 baskets of the quarter. This gave him 10 assists for the game, despite all those misses by Blair and others that he was passing to. Roger also continued his long-range bombing, and ended up shooting 4-7 from downtown. At the 5-minute mark, Pop pulled the plug, putting Malik Hairston, Theo Ratliff, and Marcus Haislip into the game. All 3 of them would score, giving the Spurs 12 players who scored on the night. That's right, every single Spur in uniform tonight scored.

Update: Here's NBA.com's assist of the night, and quite possibly of the year:

Random Observations

The Spurs finished with 32 assists on 41 field goals, meaning that a phenomenal 78% of their made shots were assisted. Amazingly, that number, along with the Spurs' point total, could have been even better if some guys had simply made easy, open shots.

Despite giving up 99 points, the Spurs defense only allowed Minnesota to shoot 39.6% on the game. Not bad, not bad at all.

Stars of the Game

3. Tim Duncan - Timmy had a quiet game, compared to the incredible streak he went on recently. But when you're the best big man in the league, "quiet" means 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

2. Richard Jefferson - RJ was hitting his jump shots, but the real reason he's here is because he was aggressive from the first few minutes of the game. He was also aggressive on defense, getting 2 blocks(the box score only credits him with 1, but he definitely got at least 2) and challenging many other shots. RJ finished with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists to go with those blocks.

1. Manu Ginobili - There's a reason Manu is the average Spurs fan's favorite player, and PtR's patron saint. Manu was everywhere in this game, and made all of his teammates look better. He put on a show the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time with his passing, and was causing havoc for the Wolves on the defensive end as well. 14 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover make this easily his best all-around performance of the season. Welcome back, Manu.

Honorable Mentions: Tony Parker, Roger Mason, DeJuan Blair

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Also, check out ESPN's Daily Dime tomorrow - Tim Varner has promised to write some things about Manu there as well.