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Terry helps Dallas pull away in second half

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- While ex-teammate Steve Nash is enjoying an
MVP-type season in Phoenix, Dallas is looking for a strong push
from its new point guard as the playoffs near.

Jason Terry is starting to give the Mavericks what they need.

Terry scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and
dished out 12 assists to help Dallas pull away from the Minnesota
Timberwolves in a 102-93 victory on Sunday afternoon.

"Every time he shoots the ball, it looks like it's going in,"
said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds. "We've got
to get him in the paint and create opportunities for everybody."

Kevin Garnett finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six
assists for the Timberwolves, though he departed briefly after
getting poked in the right eye in the second quarter. After
reaching for a rebound and getting hit inadvertently by Josh
Howard, drawing a foul, Garnett missed two free throws and left for
the locker room.

Terry, in his first season with Dallas after spending the last
five with Atlanta, has four 20-point games in his last five.
Reserve Marquis Daniels scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth,
and Howard finished with 15 points. The Mavericks went 12-for-13
from the free-throw line in the final period after going 8-for-16
over the first three.

These teams play again Tuesday in Dallas.

"Jason Terry was unbelievably aggressive," Garnett said.
"We've got to keep Jason under control."

Garnett returned to the lineup for the second half, and
Minnesota was playing relatively well until early in the fourth
when Daniels and Terry led the Mavs on a 17-6 run to make it 90-81
with 3:48 remaining.

It was a familiar finish for a team that has been perhaps the
league's biggest disappointment this season -- a careless turnover
here, a missed switch against the pick-and-roll there and another
defeat.

"We gave up way too many second-chance opportunities," said
Mark Madsen, whose foul trouble in the second half thinned the
Wolves' frontcourt even more and forced Garnett -- who's fighting a
sore knee -- to play 40 minutes.

Michael Olowokandi (sprained right knee) and Eddie Griffin
(broken left hand) are out with injuries, and starting center John
Thomas couldn't play in the second half because he was sick.

Trenton Hassell had 19 points and eight rebounds, and Wally
Szczerbiak scored 18 points off the bench for the Timberwolves
(32-32). They're 7-6 since Kevin McHale replaced Flip Saunders as
coach and began the day one game out of the final playoff spot in
10th place in the Western Conference.

Garnett's turnaround cut the lead to 93-87 near the 2-minute
mark, but Terry took advantage of lax defense on the other end and
drove the baseline for an easy layup.

"We just cannot allow those things to happen on the weak
side," Madsen said.

Later, Terry caught a long pass on a fast break and flipped a
wild shot up on the backboard to avoid losing control of the ball.
It went in, and he was fouled. The three-point play made it 98-89
with 47.9 seconds to go, and Terry taunted the Minnesota bench with
a scowl.

"My third quarter was a little rough," Terry said. "I credit
Coach for sticking with me. The guys got on me a little bit."

Acting coach Avery Johnson, who filled in for Don Nelson this
week, was pleased with Terry's response.

"It wasn't just his points," Johnson said. "It was his body
language and decision-making. But he always comes back to make
Coach happy. When he's aggressive, we're a much better basketball
team."

Game notes
ABC sideline reporter Jim Gray approached Dallas owner Mark
Cuban during warmups for a 45-minute conversation that appeared to
be congenial and both men characterized as constructive. Cuban
ordered his organization not to accommodate Gray for interviews and
requested a suspension or apology, alleging that Gray tried to
create controversy between the club and Nash by "ambushing"
Nowitzki in a recent interview. "We agree to disagree," Cuban
said. Gray said he was not prohibited from talking to the
Mavericks. "We're just moving forward," he said. ... Sam Cassell
has missed 22 of the last 33 games because of a strained right
hamstring could be ready to return, again, on Tuesday. Same for
Olowokandi. ... Nelson, who is with his wife as she recovers from
surgery, missed his third straight game while Johnson filled in.