Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/14

Game 1: Saturday, December 14th
Trail Blazers98Final
Game 2: Saturday, January 18th
Trail Blazers98
Game 3: Sunday, March 16th
Trail Blazers95Final
Game 4: Sunday, April 6th
Trail Blazers78

Trail Blazers 95

(42-24, 20-14 away)

    2:30 PM ET, March 16, 2003

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 26 18 23 2895
    MIN 23 25 26 37111

    Top Performers

    Por: A. Sabonis 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast

    Min: K. Garnett 17 Pts, 11 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

    Garnett has fifth triple-double of season in win

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) --Kevin Garnett turned in another MVP performance. Key contributions from his teammates won the game.

    Kevin Garnett

    Garnett had his fifth triple-double of the season and Wally Szczerbiak scored 20 points as the Wolves beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-95 Sunday.

    Garnett finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who had lost their previous two games. Szczerbiak had five 3-pointers and 18 of his points in the second half, and Joe Smith (12 points) and Marc Jackson (15) helped fill the inside void left by Rasho Nesterovic's sprained right ankle.

    Troy Hudson had 13 points and Anthony Peeler 10. Rookie guard Mike Wilks added a pair of big 3-pointers late in the game.

    "We were feeding off K.G. and the ball was swinging for open shots and we knocked them down,'' Szczerbiak said.

    In a possible first-round preview, Minnesota gained ground on the Blazers for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference and home-court advantage. Portland entered the game with a 1½-game lead on the Timberwolves, who've never had home-court advantage in their previous six playoff appearances.

    "A basketball court is a basketball court,'' said Kendall Gill, who had eight points on 4-for-8 shooting.

    "It's going to make for a good series if we do happen to match up against them.''

    Smith started in place of Nesterovic, who missed his first game of the season, and shot 6-for-10. Minnesota got banged around by Portland's bigger frontcourt but still outrebounded the Blazers 41-35.

    Jackson added 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and played a season-high 28 minutes.

    "We knew that with Rasho out, Jackson would get a lot of time,'' Portland's Bonzi Wells said. "He can play, we know that. But he hasn't gotten a lot lately.''

    Rasheed Wallace led the Blazers with 18 points.

    After a first half in which neither team led by more than four points, Minnesota came out with an aggressive man-to-man defense and outscored Portland 15-7 to lead 63-51. Portland cut its deficit to four late in the third quarter.

    But Minnesota opened the fourth with an 11-6 run to stretch the lead to 85-73. The Wolves deflated the Blazers with a 10-2 spurt that included consecutive 3-pointers by Szczerbiak, who shot 6-for-11 after halftime.

    "We had (Szczerbiak) under control early,'' Wells said. "But he lit it up in the second half. We just let the game get out of hand in the last quarters.''

    "They stepped up their level of play, that's the bottom line,'' Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Their level of play rose after halftime and we didn't play with the same level of energy we played with in the first half.''

    Garnett left the game late in the fourth period to an "MVP!'' chant from the Wolves' second consecutive sellout crowd.

    "This was definitely a must win,'' Garnett said. "A game both teams felt that we needed. A huge, huge win.''

    Portland's Jeff McInnis returned after missing Friday's game against Philadelphia with a broken nose. Wearing a protective face mask, McInnis finished with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

    "We really wanted to make a statement today,'' McInnis said. "But they came out and made a statement. That would be a great series, I think, once they get all their guys healthy and once we get our guys healthy and get Scottie (Pippen) back.''

    Damon Stoudamire, starting in place of Pippen, and Wells each scored 11 points while Arvydas Sabonis had 14.

    Game notes

    Wallace was hit with a technical early in the fourth for arguing with the officials after making a shot. ... Pippen missed his third straight game with a knee injury. ... Wolves G Rod Strickland (groin) missed his 24th straight game. Strickland has been practicing for the last few days.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 111
    FGM-FGA 39-80 (.488) 43-85 (.506)
    3PM-3PA 3-14 (.214) 10-17 (.588)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 15-17 (.882)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-35 15-41
    Assists 26 27
    Turnovers 14 12
    Steals 5 7
    Blocks 4 4
    Fast Break Points 5 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (3/0) 14 (4/0)

    Top Performers

    Arvydas Sabonis Sabonis
    Points: 14
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 17
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 3