Malone had 19 of his season-high 33 points in the third quarter
Saturday night, propelling the Jazz to their fourth straight win,
105-97 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I think they like each other,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said,
assessing his club's chemistry. "Moreso than any other team we've
had the last couple years. That gives you a chance. I don't care
what you're doing.''
Kevin Garnett, as usual, led the Wolves with 26 points and 14
rebounds, but went just 2-for-9 from the free-throw line. The
Wolves finished 9-for-18 from the line.
Harpring began guarding Garnett in the second half, and
Minnesota's All-Star started rushing things.
"I told the team this one's my fault,'' Garnett said. "I
should've slowed down a little bit.''
For the second night in a row, the Jazz owned the third quarter.
They used a 41-point third period Friday to beat the Bucks
118-115, and they took a 16-point lead during Malone's hot streak
"The guys are making the game simple,'' Malone said.
The camaraderie helps, too.
"We've got a good team,'' Harpring said, "and I think the
locker room is where it starts.''
Troy Hudson had 17 points and Rasho Nesterovic added 15 for
Minnesota. Hudson capped a 12-0 run with a 3-pointer to cut Utah's
lead to 87-85 with 6:25 remaining, but that was as close as
Minnesota came the rest of the way.
"We've got to sustain our concentration,'' Timberwolves guard
Kendall Gill said. "If we don't, then what happened to us in the
third quarter will happen to us a lot.''
Games against division rival Utah are important for Minnesota's
playoff chances -- and vice versa -- since both clubs are among a
throng of Western Conference teams vying for seed Nos. 3-8 with
Dallas and Sacramento separating themselves from the rest of the
The Wolves, who lost 95-77 in Salt Lake City in November when
Harpring came up with 33 points and nine rebounds, used a 15-2 run
to take a 38-25 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was their
highest-scoring period of the season.
But Utah slowly climbed back in the second quarter.
John Amaechi -- suspended for Friday's game at Milwaukee for
cutting short a workout on the exercise bike -- had all of his nine
points in the period and Malone hit a fade-away jumper with 20.7
seconds left before halftime to cut Minnesota's lead to 56-50.
Utah took its first lead on a backdoor layup by Harpring with
10:16 left in the third quarter, and Malone stayed hot -- outscoring
the Timberwolves 19-13 in the period. Minnesota missed its first
eight shots after halftime and turned the ball over five times in
"If you relax against them, if you don't get help where you're
supposed to get help, they'll slice you up,'' Timberwolves coach
Flip Saunders said. "For a six- or seven-minute stretch in the
third quarter, we got sliced up. And that was the ballgame.''
Timberwolves center Loren Woods served the first of his
two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. He's not
allowed at the arena during the suspension, and staying home is
probably his best option. "A few years ago, we suspended J.R.
Rider and two days later I found out he was dancing at an
establishment,'' Saunders said. ... Amaechi was suspended for a
game last season for an argument with coach Jerry Sloan. ... The
15-point first-quarter advantage was Minnesota's biggest blown lead
of the season.