MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett endured another rough start,
but he was there for his team at the end.
Garnett had 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, leading
the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 89-85 victory over the Los Angeles
Clippers on Sunday.
Garnett struggled for the second straight game, making just
8-of-24 field goals. Sam Cassell scored 16 points off the bench to
help Minnesota win its fourth straight game.
"He's not going to make every shot," Cassell said of Garnett.
"But he had a big block, a big rebound. He'll do what he has to do
to make the team successful."
Garnett's job is easier when Cassell is healthy and playing as
he did in his All-Star season last year.
The Timberwolves point guard, hounded by injuries all season,
made a 3-pointer off a Garnett pass with 2:03 left to put the
Wolves up for good, 83-80, then returned the favor by feeding
Garnett inside for a lay-up with 1:30 to play.
"I've never considered myself a superb shooter," Garnett said.
"I can score the basketball, but there's going to be times where I
have a game like this. But I have the ability to do different
things to influence the game."
Despite Garnett's late burst, Minnesota couldn't put the game
away. Bobby Simmons' 3-pointer with 32.6 seconds left brought the
Clippers within 86-83, then Minnesota's Fred Hoiberg, a 90-percent
free-throw shooter, missed a pair with 17 seconds left.
Corey Maggette missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 5.9
seconds left, before Garnett iced the game with two free throws.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Los Angeles.
"We just didn't weather the storm at the end," Maggette said.
Minnesota moved within 2½ games of Denver for eighth place in
the Western Conference.
Elton Brand had 25 points to lead Los Angeles, which twice
rallied from double-digit deficits.
Brand guarded Garnett for most of the game and forced him away
from the basket. Garnett hit only three of his first 15 shots
through three quarters, but he made 4-of-5 to start the final
Asked how he defended Garnett, Brand said, "Just contest all
the shots that he shoots."
Garnett had six points during a 10-0 run after the Clippers had
rallied to tie the score 68-68. But the Clippers answered with a
12-2 run, capped by Brand's jumper with 3:11 left that tied it at
Cassell shot 6-of-10 from the field, a day after scoring 23
points on 10-of-13 shooting in a 96-75 win over New Jersey. He has
missed 23 of the team's last 40 games due to a hamstring injury and
lost his starting point guard job in the process.
But Cassell has come off the bench in the last three games to
score in double figures for the Wolves.
"I just wish I was healthy all year for this team, to show what
we can do," Cassell said.
Garnett, who shot 0-for-7 from the field in the first half
Saturday, made only 1-of-7 from the field in the first quarter and
sat out the first seven minutes of the second quarter.
With their leading scorer on the bench, the Wolves outscored the
Clippers 21-8 to start the quarter, including a 12-0 Garnett-less
run, and led by nine at halftime.
The Clippers are now seven games behind Denver in the West, and
with nine of their final 12 games on the road, they face long odds
in an effort for their first playoff berth since 1997.
"We've done a good job of playing defense, being in the game,"
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We need to find a way to
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for
longtime Minnesota Twins public address announcer Bob Casey, who
died Sunday morning at age 79. ... Minnesota's Mark Madsen will
undergo surgery on his injured right wrist Tuesday in the Twin
Cities. Hand specialist Dr. Thomas Varecka will perform the
surgery. Madsen is out for the rest of the season.