SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 12 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
scored 24 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Utah Jazz, 98-87, for their fifth straight victory.
Garnett added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks as the Timberwolves defeated the Jazz for the third straight time. Utah had a season-high four-game winning streak snapped.
"We know just from playing Utah in the past (that) they have a really good second-half game, so we knew it would take a good second-half effort to blow this game open," Garnett said. "My teammates, the starters particularly, knew we had to come out and try to open it up and hit them first before they could hit us."
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Joe Smith gives the Jazz some of the inside stuff.
Minnesota's Joe Smith
scored 15 points before being ejected in the final minute for a flagrant foul on Utah rookie Andrei Kirilenko
. Smith was called for the foul for hitting Kirilenko in the head after attempting to block his shot.
"It was a good block!" Smith said. "I thought it was a good block. We just got to wait for the league to see what they say."
Terrell Brandon chipped in 14 points and nine assists for the Wolves, who have won by double digits in every game during their streak.
Minnesota held a 91-71 edge after Gary Trent made a 19-footer with 4:42 remaining, but Utah went on a 15-2 run capped by Scott Padgett's baseline jumper with 1:16 left.
Wally Szczerbiak, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, ended the surge with an 11-footer with 58 seconds to go and Minnesota held on.
"We came out in the second half and our legs felt better and we felt lively," Szczerbiak said. "When this team gets rolling and this team gets to making some shots, we're pretty tough. We did that in the third quarter and as a result we put the game away."
Karl Malone scored 20 points and DeShawn Stevenson added a career-high 16 for the Jazz, who had not won consecutive games this season before their winning streak.
"(In) the third quarter it seemed like the wheels fell off and we never recovered," Malone said. "When they smelled blood they just kept pouring it on."
John Stockton registered his 18,000th career point on a layup with 6:14 left. He finished with 10 points and seven assists.
"I think once they got their confidence up in the second half they shot the ball a little better," Stockton said. "But they got their confidence up just by outworking us, getting the rebound and some steals."
Utah led, 52-51, at halftime, but Brandon and Rasho Nesterovic scored the first eight points of the third quarter and Minnesota led thereafter. The Wolves outscored the Jazz, 31-13, in the third period.
"I got on our starters a little bit at halftime because we got a little lead and then put our bench back in and they came back to lead at halftime," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "So we challenged the starters in the second half and they just really took control of the game by the throat."
"I think our execution wasn't really good," Malone said. "In the third quarter we didn't do things to get back in the game. It's kind of the same old story: you win, you're applauded, and you lose, you get booed. It's never going to change and that's the way life is."