Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/4

Game 1: Saturday, December 4th
Game 2: Friday, December 17th
Game 3: Thursday, February 24th
Game 4: Sunday, March 27th

Clippers 86

(11-11, 4-5 away)

Timberwolves 113

(15-8, 7-3 home)

    7:00 PM ET, December 17, 2004

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAC 23 16 24 2386
    MIN 24 23 34 32113

    Top Performers

    LAC: E. Brand 17 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Blk

    Min: K. Garnett 28 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl

    Szczerbiak sparks 11-1 third-perion run

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Wally Szczerbiak was looking forward to spending a rare weekend relaxing in the Twin Cities with his family. On Friday night, it began with his best game of the season.

    Szczerbiak scored a season-high 29 points, including 11 in the third quarter, as the travel-weary Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 113-86.

    Minnesota's last eight games comprised four sets of back-to-backs in less than two weeks, playing in a different city on the second night of each. After beating Portland at home on Tuesday, the Wolves arrived in Toronto at 3 a.m. Wednesday and looked sluggish as they faded down the stretch in a loss to the lowly Raptors.

    But after a day off, the Wolves easily dispatched the Clippers, and will be rewarded with their only weekend off this season -- the Wolves don't return to action until Tuesday night at Cleveland.

    "I love playing at home, with the crowd on your side," said Szczerbiak, whose previous season-high was 28 points on Tuesday against the Trailblazers. "I'm just so happy I get to sleep in my own bed, spend a weekend in the Twin Cities and enjoy the holiday spirit with my family."

    Szczerbiak pumped in seven quick points in the first two minutes of the third quarter, part of an 11-1 run that gave the Timberwolves a 58-43 lead. Minnesota stretched its lead throughout the fourth quarter and cruised to its largest margin of victory at home this season.

    Kevin Garnett scored 28 points and led Minnesota with 10 rebounds and seven assists for his 21st double-double of the season.

    Elton Brand scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Clippers, who shot 39 percent from the floor and have lost four straight.

    "(It was) a tough shooting night for us, but not for them," Brand said. "They were hitting their shots, taking their time, and getting into what they wanted to get into. That third quarter, they really came out and ... played well and executed."

    The Timberwolves, who shot a total of 17 free throws in their previous two games -- including none in the first half at Toronto on Wednesday -- had no problem getting to the foul line against the Clippers. They made 30 of 37 attempts, with Garnett connecting on 11 of 13 and Szczerbiak going 9-for-9 from the line.

    Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said his players' aggressiveness on offense was due as much to their energy level as the offensive philosophy.

    "We had better legs tonight, there's no question about that," Saunders said. "Fatigue can really affect you mentally and you wind up taking the path of least resistance, which is usually the jump shot. You tend to take too many quick shots and not run the offense, not make the extra four to five cuts you need to find the best shots."

    The Clippers were the ones settling for jump shots on Friday, but they weren't having shooting problems early, making seven of their first eight, including three long jumpers by Marko Jaric. But Garnett scored 11 points in the first quarter, and his three-point play in the final minute gave Minnesota a 24-23 lead.

    Los Angeles continued to have trouble getting the ball inside on Minnesota's zone defense, and when the jump shots stopped falling, the Wolves were able to build their lead. The Clippers shot 39 percent in the first half, going 6-for-25 from the floor after their blazing start.

    "We didn't move the ball well enough," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We stood around and were basically guarded by their zone at times."

    After surviving their most hectic stretch of the season, don't blame the Timberwolves if they show up at work again on Saturday, out of force of habit.

    "I actually packed my bags today," Garnett said. "Some family (told) me, 'Hey, you're not going anywhere. You actually get to sleep in your bed tonight.' That's a good feeling."

    Game notes

    Timberwolves guard Troy Hudson, who raps under the name "T-Hud," will perform at Target Center on Saturday night. ... Minnesota forward Latrell Sprewell left the floor less than three minutes into the game after colliding with Bobby Simmons of the Clippers. Sprewell has a sprained left foot and didn't return to the game. ... Clippers guard Kerry Kittles missed the second half with a strained lower back.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 113
    FGM-FGA 27-69 (.391) 38-78 (.487)
    3PM-3PA 4-13 (.308) 7-14 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 28-36 (.778) 30-37 (.811)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 13-42
    Assists 15 25
    Turnovers 17 10
    Steals 4 5
    Blocks 5 3
    Fast Break Points 0 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (1/1) 26 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 3 28

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Elton Brand Brand
    Points: 17
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 28
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0