Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 3/1

Game 1: Wednesday, March 1st
Game 2: Thursday, March 23rd

Nets 90

(31-26, 13-18 away)

Timberwolves 100

(25-32, 17-13 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 1, 2006

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 23 22 22 2390
    MIN 22 32 18 28100

    Top Performers

    NJ: R. Jefferson 25 Pts, 11 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Blk

    Min: K. Garnett 26 Pts, 16 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk

    T-Wolves put it together to beat Nets

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Rashad McCants is starting to get more comfortable on the court.

    McCants scored 21 points Wednesday to help Minnesota beat New Jersey 100-90. Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead the team and Ricky Davis added 20 points as the Timberwolves won for just the third time in 10 games.

    "Coach has given me confidence to get out there and play. It's just been a matter of time before I've been able to turn it on and get comfortable out there on the court," said McCants, who scored 18 points at Chicago on Tuesday. "I think I've showed a lot of progress to this point."

    McCants has averaged 10.7 points in his past six games. He had totaled five points in his three before then, and was averaging just six points per game this season.

    "With 50, 60 games under his belt he understands a lot," Garnett said. "You can't ask a young fella to come in, expect him to do some of the things you want him to do. He's coming into his own a bit."

    Throughout it all McCants said his approach has stayed the same.

    "It's a relentless vicious attitude that I just want to score every time I get the ball whether it's getting my teammates the ball for an assist or that I score myself."

    Vince Carter scored 29 points, Richard Jefferson had 25 and Jason Kidd 20 for New Jersey, which lost its third straight. No other player scored in double figures for the Nets, who have lost four straight to the Timberwolves.

    With the Wolves leading 72-69 heading into the fourth quarter, Davis scored on a scoop shot, and after a jumper by McCants, he hit a jumper for a 78-69 lead with 8:48 to play.

    New Jersey, 2-11 on the road against the Western Conference this year, cut the lead to 82-77 on a layup by Kidd with 3:58 to go, but Justin Reed answered with a three-point play for Minnesota. He finished with a career high 14 points.

    The Nets, who shot 9-for-23 in the fourth quarter, could not get any closer.

    "When your defense falls, sometimes your offense can be part of the problem," Jefferson said. "We were taking some questionable shots that were leading to easy transition baskets on their end."

    Davis' biggest basket came when he scored on a leaner against Clifford Robinson for an 87-78 Minnesota lead with 3:14 to play. A three-point play by Garnett gave Minnesota a 92-79 lead with 1:36 left.

    Garnett made a turnaround jumper with 17 seconds to play to put Minnesota into triple figures for the fourth straight game.

    "They made some good shots, but when you give them so many comfort shots, anybody in this league will make those shots," Kidd said. Minnesota, which shot 55.9 percent, scored 40 points in the paint, compared to 30 for the Nets, who shot 41.8 percent.

    Trailing by nine points at intermission, New Jersey tied the game at 63 on a drive by Carter and dunk from Jefferson midway through the third quarter. Minnesota scored nine of the final 13 points in the third for a 72-67 lead.

    Jefferson scored 11 points in the first quarter on 5-for-5 shooting, including a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining for a 23-22 lead.

    McCants' 3-pointer midway through second and a jumper from Garnett completed a 23-7 run to start the quarter for a 43-30 Minnesota lead. McCants' dunk after a pass from Marko Jaric -- who was on his back -- put Minnesota up 47-33 with 2:37 to play.

    "In the first half, especially the second quarter, we were not playing D the way we needed to," Jefferson said. Minnesota shot 64.7 percent in the opening 24 minutes.

    McCants, who scored 13 points in the quarter, made another 3-pointer to give Minnesota a 54-43 lead before Jefferson hit two free throws just before the break.

    McCants was just part of the defensive presence that Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said was 180 degrees different from its performance 24 hours earlier in the Windy City.

    "Last night I thought we played about as bad defensively as we have in a while," he said. "Tonight I thought the guys turned on the burners and did a great job of mixing up our defenses and containing the basketball for the most part and getting guys off their spots."

    Game notes

    The Minnesota bench outscored New Jersey's reserves 40-4. ... Ejected in his last home game Sunday, Garnett was whistled for a technical foul late in the first half after loudly telling official Tony Brown three times to "Get in the game" after a foul call. ... In his last five games, Nets center Nenad Krstic's point totals are 6, 21, 4, 23 and 4. ... Robinson played 21 minutes and passed Michael Jordan for 15th in career minutes played with 41,022. In his 17th season, Robinson is now 37 behind Scottie Pippen for 14th.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 100
    FGM-FGA 33-79 (.418) 38-68 (.559)
    3PM-3PA 6-20 (.300) 5-9 (.556)
    FTM-FTA 18-25 (.720) 19-29 (.655)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-36 8-44
    Assists 23 23
    Turnovers 10 18
    Steals 5 6
    Blocks 3 4
    Fast Break Points 9 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (0/0) 19 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 1 15

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Richard Jefferson Jefferson
    Points: 25
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 26
    Reb: 16
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1