MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Referee Ken Mauer certainly won't be accused of being biased toward his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves anytime soon.
Mauer, a cousin of Twins superstar Joe Mauer and a St. Paul native, whistled the Wolves for five technical fouls in a dizzying 10 seconds of the third quarter, allowing the calm and collected San Antonio Spurs to take control of another head-scratchingly tight game between the best team in the NBA and one of the worst.
Manu Ginobili had 19 points, making all five of those technical free throws, and the Spurs beat the Timberwolves 107-96 on Tuesday night.
``I've never seen that before,' said Wolves forward Kevin Love, who picked up the final technical of the spree. ``Five in a row, that had to be a first. That was crazy.'
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 and six assists.
Love had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Timberwolves, his sixth 20-20 game of the season. Orlando's Dwight Howard led the league with three 20-20 games all of last season.
But again, it wasn't enough for the Wolves (9-30), who have lost five in a row and came unglued during Mauer's five-technical binge in the third.
The Timberwolves rallied early in the third, trimming a 16-point deficit to 68-62 in the first 2 1/2 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.
``I've never seen that. Never,' said Michael Beasley, who had just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting and left in the fourth quarter after aggravating his sprained left ankle. ``I've seen simultaneous Ts on different teams. But on the same team, that was a first. It's been happening all year. ... I don't like getting five Ts in 30 seconds, but you've got to see where the refs are coming from. If they feel you're out of place, they've been doing it all year.'
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 the final technical.
Ginobili knocked down his fifth technical free throw in 10 seconds, giving the Spurs a 73-62 lead.
``I was glad it was us shooting,' Ginobili said. ``It was kind of awkward. It was strange.'
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 Duncan scored on an up-and-under to push the lead to 103-91.
``Veteran team, a lot of poise, they just kind of picked us apart at the end,' Rambis said, declining to comment on the officiating.
San Antonio has won three in a row and 17 of 20 to improve to an NBA-best 32-6. Matt Bonner scored 16 points off the bench and the Spurs hit 11-of-22 3-pointers.
Despite the league's best record, the Spurs 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.
``Man, I'm tired of playing these guys,' Jefferson said. ``These dudes cause fits for us.'
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.
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