Thursday, February 27, 2003

NBA Games

Garnett rallies T-Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Garnett saved his very best for last.

Garnett scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and added 17 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Utah Jazz 92-85 Wednesday night, averting a season sweep and extending their home winning streak to 15 games.

The Wolves won their fifth straight and their 11th in 12 games.

"Tonight's game answered a lot of questions about us," Garnett said. "Are we tough enough? Do we have what it takes to win?"

Few would question Garnett's status as an MVP contender. Garnett has averaged 29 points and 14 rebounds as the Wolves have gone 11-1 in February.

This time he struggled with his shooting for three quarters but took over in the fourth, making all seven of his shots. The crowd, which had waved MVP signs throughout the game, serenaded Garnett with chants of "MVP" in the closing seconds.

"He's the best player in the world right now," said teammate Troy Hudson. "He's our go-to guy in the fourth quarter because we know he'll come through for us."

In other games, Golden State defeated the L.A. Clippers 108-94, Philadelphia beat Memphis 111-107, Boston edged Indiana 71-69, New Jersey trounced New York 105-76, Phoenix downed Milwaukee 118-112, New Orleans defeated Miami 91-82, Portland downed Denver 94-84, Seattle defeated Atlanta 93-76, and Chicago beat Toronto 103-95.

Garnett, who had his league-high 48th double-double, put Minnesota ahead to stay, 83-81, with a layup with 1:40 remaining.

After the Wolves forced a 24-second violation on Utah's subsequent possession, Garnett grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Wally Szczerbiak for a 3-pointer with 44.1 seconds remaining.

John Stockton missed at the other end, and Troy Hudson made six consecutive free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.

"I can see why players want to play with him," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of Garnett. "He makes the game easier for other players. That's how good he is."

All five Minnesota starters finished in double figures.

Szczerbiak also struggled for most of the game but came through in the end. He made just one his first 12 shots before hitting 3-of-5 in the fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"I've watched players in this league for four years have horrible shooting nights and make shots down the stretch because they stay focused," Szczerbiak said. "But if we didn't have No. 21 (Garnett), my shots wouldn't have been as big as they were.

Szczerbiak did not practice Tuesday as his wife, Shannon, gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Annabella Rose.

Warriors 108, Clippers 94

At Los Angeles, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas each scored 18 points as Golden State extended its winning streak to a season-best four games.

Troy Murphy had 11 points and 10 rebounds, helping the NBA's second-highest scoring team remain three games behind Phoenix for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. It's the first time the Warriors have won four straight since Jan. 27-Feb. 4, 2000 - and the first time they are within two games of .500 since starting out 1-3.

Sixers 111, Grizzlies 107

At Philadelphia, the 76ers have turned things around in a hurry, so much so that they're threatening to contend for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Eric Snow had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and Allen Iverson scored 34 points to lead the 76ers to their seventh straight victory.

The 76ers (32-24) remained a half-game ahead of Boston for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and 4 1/2 games behind Detroit for the top spot. Six of their seven victories have come against teams with losing records.

Celtics 71, Pacers 69

At Boston, Walter McCarty hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24.9 seconds remaining, and Boston extended Indiana's longest losing streak in 10 years to six games.

In the final 10 seconds, Pierce and McCarty each converted one free throw before Indiana's Reggie Miller shot an airball at the buzzer despite a wide-open look.

Nets 105, Knicks 76

At East Rutherford, N.J., Jason Kidd scored 21 points as the Nets ended a season-high three-game losing streak.

Richard Jefferson added 17 points and 10 rebounds as New Jersey handed New York its most lopsided loss of the season. New Jersey led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, and the final score represented the largest margin of the game.

Suns 118, Bucks 112

At Milwaukee, Stephon Marbury scored 41 points, including 35 in the second half, to help Phoenix snap a four-game losing streak.

Joe Johnson added 20 points for Phoenix. Marbury surpassed 40 for the fourth time this season and the second time this month, finishing two points shy of his season high.

Hornets 91, Heat 82

At New Orleans, Jamal Mashburn had 18 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in the Hornets' fifth victory in six games.

Miami got as close as 82-78 with about three minutes left on a 7-0 run, but George Lynch responded with a 3-pointer from the right wing and David Wesley followed with a driving layup to the lead to 87-78 with 2:12 left.

Trail Blazers 94, Nuggets 84

At Denver, Ruben Patterson scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for Portland.

Patterson shot 5-for-6 in the final quarter, and Antonio Daniels hit a 3-pointer to start a game-deciding 9-0 run as the Trail Blazers won in Denver for the first time since Nov. 12, 1999.

SuperSonics 93, Hawks 76

At Seattle, Ray Allen scored 21 points in his second home game with his new team.

The Sonics had five players reach double-figure scoring. Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic scored 15 apiece. Predrag Drobnjak had 13 and Jerome James added 11.

Bulls 103, Raptors 95

At Chicago, Jalen Rose scored 26 points and Eddy Curry added 24 as the Bulls matched last season's victory total of 21.

Rose rallied Chicago after the Bulls trailed 63-52 with 5:26 left in the third quarter, scoring 14 consecutive points. Rose hit his seventh consecutive shot to give the Bulls a 92-86 lead with 3:26 left.

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