Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/29

Game 1: Friday, November 29th
Game 2: Saturday, January 4th
Game 3: Monday, February 17th
Game 4: Wednesday, February 26th

Coverage: KJZZ

8:00 PM ET, February 26, 2003

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 T
UTAH 23 20 19 2385
MIN 19 22 23 2892

Top Performers

Utah: M. Harpring 14 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Minnesota: K. Garnett 24 Pts, 17 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Garnett's fourth-quarter effort earns 'MVP' chants

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett saved his very best for last.

Kevin Garnett

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.''

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.

Karl Malone scored 19 points to lead the Jazz, while Stockton had 10 points and 11 assists. Utah was the last team to beat Minnesota at Target Center, 105-97 on Jan. 4.

In the team's previous three meetings, Utah dominated the third quarters and outscored Minnesota by a combined 94-54.

Things started along that path in the third quarter Wednesday, as the Wolves had three turnovers, a missed layup and a missed dunk on their first seven possessions of the second half as the Jazz built a 53-46 lead.

But Minnesota answered with an 11-0 run. Rasho Nesterovic made a pair of inside baskets, Anthony Peeler hit a 3 and another long jumper, then Garnett nailed a 15-footer with 5 minutes remaining in the quarter to give Minnesota a 57-53 lead.

"In a game like this, the difference are the little streaks,'' Malone said.

The Jazz played without starting guard Calbert Cheaney, who had the flu. DeShawn Stevenson started in his place.

Game notes

Szczerbiak did not practice Tuesday as his wife, Shannon, gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Annabelle Rose. ... The Wolves' home winning streak is the longest in the NBA this season. Indiana won 14 in a row from Nov. 28 to Jan. 26. ... All five of the Wolves home losses have come on a Saturday. They have no more remaining home games on Saturdays this season. ... The Wolves have now beaten every Western Conference team. They've been swept by Boston, New Jersey and Indiana. They have not yet played Miami.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 85 92
FGM-FGA 36-79 (.456) 34-74 (.459)
3PM-3PA 1-14 (.071) 7-18 (.389)
FTM-FTA 12-17 (.706) 17-24 (.708)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-35 12-51
Assists 28 29
Turnovers 13 17
Steals 7 5
Blocks 3 5
Fast Break Points 4 3
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 18 (1/0)

Top Performers

Matt Harpring Harpring
Points: 14
Reb: 9
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Kevin Garnett Garnett
Points: 24
Reb: 17
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 1