Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/3

Game 1: Friday, December 3rd
Game 2: Tuesday, January 4th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 2nd
Game 4: Friday, April 1st

Timberwolves 97

(10-5, 6-3 away)

Suns 93

(13-3, 6-2 home)

Coverage: KSTC

7:00 PM ET, December 3, 2004

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 29 21 19 2897
PHX 29 17 24 2393

Top Performers

Minnesota: K. Garnett 23 Pts, 19 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Phoenix: S. Marion 21 Pts, 18 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

KG leads Minnesota to fourth straight win

PHOENIX (AP) -- Defense, clutch shooting and Kevin Garnett were enough to end the Phoenix Suns' nine-game winning streak.

Garnett had 23 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away in the final seven minutes to beat the Suns 97-93 Friday night.

Sam Cassell scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Timberwolves win their fourth in a row and hand the Suns just their third defeat in 16 games.

Garnett had 11 offensive boards, and has 65 rebounds in the last four games.

Latrell Sprewell scored 22, including 4-of-5 3-pointers, and Wally Szczerbiak added 14 points for Minnesota, 3-0 on a four-game road trip. Eddie Griffin had 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Amare Stoudemire had 28 points but only four rebounds, Shawn Marion 21 points and 18 rebounds and Steve Nash 22 points and eight assists for the Suns, who were 2-for-18 from 3-point range.

"In these games, it boils down to three or four possessions to decide who wins," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We were down by five, went to our zone and all of a sudden we were up by five. We kind of regained control of the tempo of the game."

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni thought it was his team's tightness more than Minnesota's defense that caused the shooting woes.

"I just thought we were kind of tentative," he said. "We knew this was a big game for us and I just don't think we stepped up the way we should."

Both D'Antoni and Stoudemire called it a learning experience.

"It's good that we experienced this early in the season, so that when we get another tough game like this we'll be prepared for it," Stoudemire said.

Slowing the fast-paced Suns was a big part of Minnesota's game plan.

"We sat here and watched their last three games and they got 27, 24, 27 layups," Garnett said. "It was very important not only to control the pace of the game but play some defense, try to make it difficult on Steve."

The Suns, one victory shy of their best start in franchise history, led 79-77 after Casey Jacobsen made one of two free throws with 7:42 left. But Fred Hoiberg and Griffin sank 3s to ignite a 14-4 run that put Minnesota ahead 91-83 on Sprewell's fast-break layup with 3:37 remaining. The Suns committed three turnovers in the decisive run.

"We just wanted to get the game to the fourth quarter -- up four, down four, whatever it may be," Cassell said. "We like our chances against any team in the league in that situation."

Phoenix's small lineup ran into big problems against the physical Timberwolves, who outrebounded the Suns 59-47, 22-14 on the offensive boards.

Sprewell sank consecutive 3-pointers and Garnett made a 10-foot bank shot in a 6-1 spurt in the final 56 seconds of the half to give the Timberwolves a 50-46 lead at the break.

Phoenix briefly got its familiar fast game going in an 8-0 spurt that put the Suns up 65-59 on Nash's 14-foot fadeaway jumper. But Sprewell's 3-pointer and Griffin's three-point play quickly made it 65-all. Stoudemire's baseline stuff on a three-point play and Nash's fast-break basket got the Suns up 70-69 after three quarters.

Garnett had 14 points and 11 rebounds -- seven on the offensive boards -- in the first half, and Griffin had 10 rebounds in the first two quarters.

Stoudemire scored 17 in the first half but had just one rebound. Both teams struggled from the field in the first two quarters, the Suns shooting 39 percent and the Timberwolves 43 percent. ^Notes:@ Minnesota committed six turnovers in the third quarter. ... The Suns' Joe Johnson was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in the first half and finished 2-for-11 for four points. ... Minnesota held Phoenix to 25 percent shooting (7-for-28) in the second quarter. ... The Suns scored less than 100 for only the third time this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 97 93
FGM-FGA 40-95 (.421) 37-92 (.402)
3PM-3PA 8-19 (.421) 2-18 (.111)
FTM-FTA 9-18 (.500) 17-21 (.810)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 22-59 14-47
Assists 17 16
Turnovers 19 14
Steals 8 6
Blocks 9 4
Fast Break Points 11 20
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 20 (0/0)
Largest Lead 9 7

Top Performers

Kevin Garnett Garnett
Points: 23
Reb: 19
Ast: 8
Stl: 3
Blk: 1
Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 21
Reb: 18
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 0