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Timberwolves snap five-game road losing streak

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Latrell Sprewell took over, and the rest
of the Minnesota Timberwolves went along for the ride.

Sprewell scored 27 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with
just more than a minute left, and the Timberwolves beat the
Portland Trail Blazers 91-83 on Sunday night.

"Spree was active tonight and we just sort of followed his
lead," teammate Kevin Garnett said. "We all just played off him
tonight."

The victory snapped Minnesota's five-game losing streak on the
road, dating to a 92-83 win at Portland on Jan. 22.

The Timberwolves also swept the Blazers in their four-game
series this season. It was the first time Minnesota swept Portland
since the team joined the NBA in 1989-90.

Nick Van Exel scored 26 points for the Blazers, who have lost
six of their last eight. The two wins came against Charlotte and
Atlanta, who rank at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

"We lost. We had a chance. Same old story," Van Exel said
tersely.

Trailing by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the
Blazers rallied to tie it at 74 on Van Exel's 3-pointer early in
the fourth.

The Blazers wouldn't let Minnesota pull away. Van Exel's
3-pointer with 4:25 to go tied it again at 81, and after Garnett's
reverse layup, Ruben Patterson tied it at 83

Sprewell's 3-pointer put the Timberwolves up 86-83 with 1:06
left before Wally Szczerbiak hit another one with 36.4 seconds left
to seal it.

"Wally's was a little bigger, but it was nice to get two threes
late in the game to win it," Sprewell said.

Garnett had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which
evened its record to 3-3 under Kevin McHale. The Timberwolves' vice
president of basketball operations took over for fired coach Flip
Saunders on Feb. 12.

"We're trying to get an identity a little bit," McHale said.
"Everybody had a clean slate when I took over, but I'd rather be
40-15 with Flip coaching right now."

The Blazers were coming off a 102-101 victory over Atlanta
Friday at the Rose Garden, when Zach Randolph had 31 points and 12
rebounds. On Sunday, Randolph got into foul trouble late in the
third quarter and played sparingly the rest of the way. He finished
with 17 points and nine rebounds.

The Timberwolves, coming off a 98-88 loss at Seattle on Friday,
were hurting. Forward Eddie Griffin went on the injured list Friday
with a broken finger in his left hand. Center Michael Olowokandi
did not play because of a hyperextended right knee. He also has had
the flu.

That didn't cause them much trouble against the Blazers,
especially in the first half.

Minnesota used a 10-2 run capped by Fred Hoiberg's 20-foot
jumper to take a 45-35 lead in the first half. Sprewell's 3-pointer
made it 56-48 at the break.

"Latrell Sprewell reminds me of all the guys I played with,"
McHale said. "He's got personality and he knows the game. A little
personality never hurt anybody."

The Blazers narrowed it to 68-63 in the third quarter on Darius
Miles' fast-break layup but Garnett scored the next six points --
including a pair of dunks -- to put Minnesota ahead 74-63.

The Blazers and the Timberwolves are both trying to catch the
Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the
Western Conference.

"It's just the urgency of knowing that we have to get in it,"
Sprewell said. "I'm just trying to do everything I can to help us
get in it."

Portland's chances appear to be quickly growing dim. It doesn't
help that the Detroit Pistons -- with former teammate Rasheed
Wallace -- are headed to Portland on Tuesday.

Patterson suggested the Blazers just need get mad.

"We've got to compete every night because we've got a fight,"
Patterson said. "We've got to bring that anger out, man."

Game notes
Blazers center Theo Ratliff has a clogged right tear duct
causing swelling and light sensitivity. He played Sunday wearing
protective eyewear. ... Portland rookie guard Sebastian Telfair
returned after missing Friday's game with a sprained ankle.