<
>

T-Wolves lose despite Garnett's monster night

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Orlando Magic got just what they needed
to break their road slump and bad defensive habits: A matchup with
the sliding Minnesota Timberwolves.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 26 points in his first start of the season,
Grant Hill added 20 and the Orlando Magic snapped their seven-game
road losing streak with an 87-80 victory Wednesday night.

Steve Francis had 17 points for the Magic, who withstood a
19-point, 25-rebound night from Kevin Garnett to win their first
road game since Dec. 10 at Golden State.

"If we give this kind of effort every night on the road, we'll
be all right," said Turkoglu, who played a team-high 43 minutes.

"I haven't played this many minutes," Turkoglu said. "My
teammates looked for me."

Orlando played without newly acquired guard Doug Christie, who
was given a few extra days to join the team. He was expected to
join the Magic on Friday at Detroit.

Even without Christie's solid defensive skills, the Magic -- who
have allowed the most points per game in the league this season --
held Minnesota to 30-of-77 shooting from the floor, 39 percent.

The Magic repeatedly clogged the lane, taking away the Wolves'
passing lanes when Garnett was in the post. As a result, Garnett
was forced to the outside on several occasions. Minnesota's 18
turnovers didn't hurt Orlando's cause either.

"We were really tenacious on defense tonight," Magic coach
Johnny Davis said. "Our guys were really swarming."

Even so, the Timberwolves -- who lost their third straight --
still had a chance late.

Latrell Sprewell, who finished with 12 points, hit a jumper to
pull Minnesota to 84-80 with 1:35 to play. Orlando failed to score
and Minnesota had a chance to further cut the lead, but Anthony
Carter's pass to Sprewell on the perimeter appeared to hit off
referee Bill Spooner, and Hill came away with the ball and called
timeout.

Garnett missed a runner on Minnesota's next possession, Jameer
Nelson made one of two free throws on the other end, and Garnett
was called for an offensive foul on the Wolves' ensuing possession.

Wally Szczerbiak and Trenton Hassell each had 14 points for
Minnesota. Garnett's 25 rebounds tied his career high, but he
scored only four points after halftime.

Minnesota has lost 11 of its last 15 games.

"We've got to knuckle down and play some defense," Garnett
said. "I feel like if we can stop some people, we can win some
games."

Wolves coach Flip Saunders thinks it will take more than
defense, though. Saunders said he was disappointed with his team's
energy to start the game.

"It was extremely poor, almost embarrassing," Saunders said.

Orlando built an early lead as Minnesota shot 15-for-42 in the
first half. The Magic led 50-41 at halftime, with 10 points coming
off nine Wolves turnovers.

The Magic led by 11 lead early in the third quarter after a 10-2
run. Minnesota got back into the game by scoring seven unanswered
before Turkoglu drained a 3-pointer with 1:26 to go and added a
pair of free throws before the end of the quarter.

"It was a great effort overall as a team," Turkoglu said. "It
was great to get a win in a close game."

Wolves point guard Sam Cassell missed his third straight game.
He missed the previous two games with a strained right hamstring,
but missed Wednesday's game because of a death in the family.

Game notes
Turkoglu's season-high is 27 points. He has scored in
double figures 25 times this season. ... Troy Hudson started in
place of Cassell but was sidelined early in the third quarter after
experiencing back spasms. ... Sprewell turned his left ankle near
the end of the first quarter, but he returned in the second.