Wednesday , Mar , 24 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Wolves extend lead over Spurs in Midwest

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Kevin Garnett scored 27 points and pulled
down 10 rebounds, as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the San Antonio
Spurs, 86-81, at the Target Center.

Latrell Sprewell netted 20 points and Sam Cassell recorded a triple-double
with 14 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. Cassell hit four
clutch free throws down the stretch, helping the Timberwolves post their third
straight victory.

Tim Duncan collected 26 points, eight boards and five assists for San Antonio,
which had a two-game winning streak halted. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in 19 points
and nine rebounds and Malik Rose added 15 points and eight boards for the
Spurs, who fell three games behind the first-place Timberwolves in the Midwest
Division.

“We just couldn’t find someone to knock shots down,” said San Antonio head
coach Gregg Popovich. “A lot of guys had tough nights shooting.”

Wally Szczerbiak’s jumper early in the fourth quarter staked Minnesota to a
70-62 lead.

The Spurs then battled back and took a 78-77 advantage on a three-point play
by Turkoglu with 3:37 remaining.

After a pair of foul shots by Garnett put the Timberwolves in front, Turkoglu
nailed a three-pointer to give San Antonio an 81-79 lead.

Garnett answered with a basket and after Duncan missed two free throws,
Cassell was fouled and sank both attempts from the stripe to make it 83-81 in
favor of Minnesota with 2:02 left.

Following a series of missed shots by both teams, Ervin Johnson was able to
force a jump ball with Duncan with 15.3 seconds remaining. The tap was
eventually controlled by Johnson and he passed the ball to Cassell, who was
fouled with nine seconds left.

Cassell sank both free throws to seal it. Garnett accounted for the final
margin when he hit 1-of-2 from the line with three seconds remaining.

“I put this one on my shoulders. I had two or three opportunities at the end
of the game to score,” said Duncan. “I just didn’t get it done.”

The Timberwolves trailed by a point midway through the first quarter, before
going on a 14-4 spurt, keyed by eight points from Sprewell, to take a 27-18
advantage.

Minnesota’s lead reached as many as 15 in the period and was 35-22 after 12
minutes. The Timberwolves made 16-of-24 shots from the floor in the stanza and
were led by Sprewell’s 12 points.

Minnesota again led by 15 at 39-24 following a jumper by Sprewell, but San
Antonio countered with an 11-2 run, capped by Tony Parker’s jumper, to cut the
deficit to six with 5:43 remaining in the second quarter.

After the Timberwolves built the advantage back to eight, the Spurs closed the
period with a 10-2 spurt to knot the contest at 47-47 heading to the
intermission. Parker scored five points during the late surge.

Rose had 13 points in the first half, while Sprewell led Minnesota in the
opening 24 minutes with 16.

The third quarter was tight throughout, before the Timberwolves closed the
period with a 9-4 run to take a 68-62 lead after 36 minutes.

Parker finished with 11 points and 12 assists. The Spurs have lost four
straight on the road.

It was Cassell’s first triple-double of the season and third of his career.
Minnesota has won 14 of its last 21 contests.

The clubs split the four-game season series.

SAN MIN