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KG: 27 points, 14 boards, 5 assists and words

4/28/2004

DENVER (AP) -- For two days, the young Denver Nuggets talked. The
Minnesota Timberwolves saved their response for the court.

It seems the Timberwovles are finally ready to take the next
step.

Kevin Garnett had 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists
Tuesday night, helping the Timberwolves hold off the Denver Nuggets
84-82 to move within a game of reaching the second round of the
playoffs for the first time in eight tries.

"Sometimes you've got to let a sleeping dog sleep and they've
been doing a real good job of throwing gasoline on the fire,"
Garnett said. "We heard the comments, we just sat back, waited for
the game and just played. Now we're in position to close this thing
out."

Garnett had plenty to do with it.

Frustrated by Denver's physical approach in Game 3, Garnett kept
his cool when things got rough this time. He did get into a shoving
match with Marcus Camby in a scramble for a loose ball in the first
quarter, but stayed calm and fought through leg cramps to finish
8-for-17 and 11-for-15 on free throws.

"He got us to where we needed to get," Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said.

It almost wasn't enough.

Minnesota led by eight midway through the fourth quarter, but
Camby cut it to 76-74 on a 3-point play with 4:43 left that got the
crowd on its feet.

The Timberwolves pushed it back to a six-point lead, but Voshon
Lenard hit a 3-pointer and had a steal that led to another 3 that
made it 81-80 with 1:14 left.

Latrell Sprewell answered with a 3-pointer in the corner, then
Nene scored on a dunk to make it 84-82 with 18 seconds left.
Sprewell missed two free throws at the other end, but Andre
Miller's shot in the lane was too hard and Lenard was nowhere close
on a turnaround at the buzzer.

"It's been fun. The first two games were kind of boring, then
the verbal stuff started in the papers, and it was intense out
there," Denver's Jon Barry said. "It's what the players are all
about. We played really hard, we just didn't play particularly
well."

Minnesota played without sixth man Wally Szczerbiak, who broke
three vertebrae in a nasty fall in Game 3, but got 14 points from
defensive specialist Trenton Hassell and 15 from Sam Cassell.

The Timberwolves can clinch a playoff series for the first time
in team history Friday in Minnesota.

"We're not coming back here," Sprewell said.

Lenard had 28 points and Miller 13 for Denver, but star rookie
Carmelo Anthony had just two points on 1-for-16 shooting against
Hassell and spent the final minutes of the fourth quarter waving a
towel from the bench.

"To be honest, Carmelo needs to move a little better without
the ball," Bzdelik said.

Anthony struggled from the start, missing all nine shots in the
first half and had a runner from halfcourt waved off because it
came after the buzzer.

It didn't get much better to start the second half. Anthony shot
an airball on an open 3-pointer and missed three more shots before
scoring on a breakaway at 6:31 after stealing the ball from
Hassell.

It got worse a few minutes later, when Anthony had to come out
after stepping on Camby's foot and twisting his left knee. He
returned four minutes later with a wrap on his knee, but missed his
next four shots and sat out the final 7:06 after his knee
stiffened.

"It felt funny watching, but I was going to cheer for my
teammates," Anthony said.

Game notes
A moment of silence was held before tipoff to honor former
Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who was killed in action in
Afghanistan last week. ... The start was delayed 20 minutes because
the previous game on television, New Orleans-Miami, ran late. ...
The Nuggets were loose before the game. Much of the conversation
centered on backup forward Chris Andersen's hair, which looked like
he had put up in curlers. "I can't stop talking about it,"
reserve guard Jeff Trepanier said with a laugh.