In the end, Minnesota's "Big Three" combined for 75 points as
the Timberwolves beat the Phoenix Suns 110-95 on Tuesday night for
their third straight victory and 17th in 21 games.
"We take turns," said Cassell, who had 22 points and 10
assists. "Whoever jump starts us and then somebody's got to finish
Sprewell scored 15 points in the first quarter, Garnett had 32
points and 14 rebounds and Cassell hit three straight key shots in
the fourth quarter.
"It just seems like one guy takes over certain a part of the
game and continues to do that," coach Flip Saunders said.
To be fair, Garnett seemed take over the entire game as he
posted his league-leading 47th double-double. Minnesota improved to
23 games over .500 (38-15) for the first time in team history.
"We establish the lead and want to be aggressive from the
start," Garnett said. "Sam came in and hit some big shots in the
"They know how to play down towards the end and we don't do a
good job yet," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"All they need is to smell a little blood," said Shawn Marion,
who finished with 18 points but shot just 6-for-21.
Phoenix shot 38.4 percent from the field.
Despite the dominance of the "Big Three," Minnesota needed a
spark from its reserves at the start of the final quarter. Fred
Hoiberg opened the scoring with five straight points as Minnesota
extended its lead to 83-74 with 11 minutes left.
After the Suns got within 89-85, Garnett hit a jumper and Mark
Madsen made a three-point play to restore the nine-point lead.
Cassell then made three straight jumpers to give the Wolves a
100-88 lead with 3:02 left. The Suns didn't get closer than nine
points the rest of the way.
Trailing 59-50, the Suns tightened their defense in the third
quarter holding Minnesota to just 8-of-23 shooting and forcing five
turnovers. On the offensive end Stoudemire went right at the
Wolves, scoring 11 points in the quarter and bringing Phoenix
"That's the whole point of playing harder down the stretch to
get the game that close," Stoudemire said. "But we just couldn't
close it off."
Sprewell went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the first
quarter and Minnesota led 31-23 heading into the second. Johnson
scored 14 points in the quarter for Phoenix.
The Timberwolves used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take a
45-31 lead at the 5:57 mark. The Suns were held without a field
goal for nearly 3 minutes and Cassell hit three mid-range jumpers
during the stretch.
The Wolves finished the half with a 59-50 lead, after making 20
of 22 free throws.
Troy Hudson played for the first time since reaggravating the
right ankle he sprained Jan. 28 at Golden State and scored five
points. He had missed eight straight games and 44 of the team's
"I'm ready to see us all healthy and how we all flow, and to
form some chemistry going up to April," Garnett said. "I think
we're scary if we gain this chemistry and this flow early come the
Center Michael Olowokandi -- on the injured list since Dec. 13 --
and forward Wally Szczerbiak, who has missed all but one preseason
game, both practiced without restriction on Monday. Szczerbiak,
however, took an elbow from Madsen and had to get stitches above
his left eye.
Trenton Hassell had 10 points for Minnesota and Howard
Eisley had 14 for Phoenix. ... Garnett was 12-for-12 from the foul
line and the Wolves were 31-for-33. ... This was the third straight
opponent Minnesota has held under 40 percent from the field. ...
Cassell, who made his All-Star debut Sunday and had a team-high
seven assists, also had his sore right elbow X-rayed in Los
Angeles. The X-rays were negative and after the game Cassell
described his injury as "wear and tear." ... Phoenix has lost
eight straight at Target Center.