Monday , Apr , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Garnett and Cassell lead Timberwolves over Nuggets

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Kevin Garnett scored 30 points and grabbed
20 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 106-92 victory over the
Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at
the Target Center.

Sam Cassell scored a playoff career-high 40 points on 16-of-24 shooting,
including 5-of-6 from three-point range, for the top-seeded Timberwolves, who
are trying to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.

“That’s the beauty of this team is that we have guys that can score the
basketball,” said Garnett, who was forced to sit for a stretch in the second
half with foul trouble.

Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points for the Nuggets, who are in the playoffs for
the first time since 1995. Marcus Camby also had 19 and pulled down eight
rebounds in the loss.

“I feel good about this game,” said Anthony. “I got my feet wet and now I know
what to expect in the next few games.”

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Wednesday at the Target
Center.

Denver trailed by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, but was down only
11 entering the final 12 minutes. A basket by Earl Boykins cut the Minnesota
lead to 79-70 early in the final stanza and Camby completed a three-point play
after getting fouled while hitting a jumper in the lane to bring the Nuggets
within seven at 80-73. Francisco Elson scored with 9:31 to go to cut the
Timberwolves’ lead to 80-75.

“We kept fighting and stayed in the game,” said Anthony.

Minnesota responded with six consecutive points for an 11-point advantage.
Garnett scored four straight points and Cassell hit a jumper to give Minnesota
an 86-75 lead.

Camby scored underneath and completed a three-point play with 6:36 remaining
in the fourth quarter to cut the Minnesota lead to 87-80, but the Timberwolves
again answered with six quick points for a 13-point lead.

Trenton Hassell put back a missed three-point attempt by Cassell to give the
Wolves an 89-80 lead and after two free throws by Latrell Sprewell, a basket
by Cassell put Minnesota in front 93-80 with 5:18 left.

“We needed this first game, now the job is to win the second and try to hold
home court,” said Sprewell.

Cassell hit a jumper from just inside the three-point arc with 3 1/2 minutes
to go to give the Timberwolves a 101-87 advantage and put the game out of
reach.

The Timberwolves, who led by nine at halftime, scored 10 straight points early
in the third quarter. Garnett hit a jumper to ignite the spurt, giving
Minnesota a 53-44 advantage. Cassell followed with the next eight points,
including back-to-back three-pointers, as the lead grew to 61-44.

Leading 63-48, Cassell buried another three-pointer during a seven-point burst
that gave Minnesota a 22-point cushion.

Denver would not quit and used an eight-point spurt late in the third quarter
to get within 11, 79-68.

Minnesota started out slowly and trailed 14-10 early in the opening quarter. A
three-pointer by Cassell, however, sparked a 17-2 run that put gave the Wolves
the lead for good. Cassell completed a three-point play that tied the game at
16-16 with just under five minutes left in the first quarter. Wally Szczerbiak
hit a trey and Garnett capped the run wit a jumper for a 27-16 advantage.

“We wanted to come out and put some pressure on them to see how they would
respond to it and put them on their heels early,” said Garnett.

The Timberwolves led by nine after 12 minutes and were ahead 39-25 after a
jumper by Cassell early in the second quarter. Denver, however, ran off nine
straight points to get within five.

Jon Barry hit a pair from the free throw line to spark the run and Miller’s
jumper midway through the frame pulled the Nuggets within 39-34.

Cassell responded with a trey and Garnett muscled inside for a basket to give
Minnesota a 10-point lead. Garnett scored just before halftime to give the
Timberwolves a 51-42 edge at the break.

DEN MIN