PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 30 (Ticker)
-- Kevin Garnett
scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Wally Szczerbiak
had 27 and 10 to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to their fourth win in five games, 95-93 over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Garnett made two free throws with 3:37 left to put Minnesota ahead for good, 93-91. Rasheed Wallace
was 1-of-2 from the line with 1:41 remaining to pull Portland within a point, but Chauncey Billups
hit a jumper for the Timberwolves.
After Derek Anderson
made 1-of-2 free throws to slice the Trail Blazers' deficit to two, Wallace missed a 20-foot jumper with five seconds left and Garnett grabbed the rebound.
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Kevin Garnett lets out a joyous whoop for the Timberwolves' fourth win in the last five games.
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
"I told my teammates that we weren't going to go out like this and we had to pick our heads up," Garnett said. "You try and play the best defense that you can. Wallace is one of the hardest players to guard. I just tried to put a hand in his face and contest the shot."
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders liked what he saw from Garnett and Szczerbiak.
"(They) did a great job as far as carrying our team," he said. "Wally has been playing with an extreme amount of confidence. Our guys look to him. He is not afraid to take big shots."
Billups added 17 points and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who have won six of the last seven meetings with the Trail Blazers.
Wallace scored 26 points, Ruben Patterson
contributed 19 and Damon Stoudamire
had 19 and tied a season high with 13 assists. But Portland's losing streak reached a season-high four games. The Blazers have lost nine of 13 games since winning three straight from November 23-30.
"It's another game we let go," Anderson said. "We should have won. We're struggling. We're trying to get a win, but no team probably wants us to get a win on them. We're still keeping our heads up. We know we played great basketball tonight. We did a lot of great things tonight."
"I thought we played well enough to win," Stoudamire added. "I thought we played a good ballgame, but the results weren't there. We came back and played solid defense."
Portland had its chances in a game that featured 17 lead changes and 12 ties. Neither team led by more than eight points.
"If we play like that in all of our games, we will probably win a lot more games," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We would have liked to have the win, but this was a step in the right direction.
"Minnesota is a very good basketball team and this was a high-level game. This is the way you are supposed to play this game; both teams did it. What we have to do is to have that kind of consistency in every quarter in all of our games."
Patterson's dunk gave the Blazers a 22-18 lead with 2:42 left in the first quarter. But the Timberwolves replied with a 9-0 spurt, capped by Garnett's 3-pointer with a minute left.
Wallace's bucket with 1:37 left forged a 45-45 tie in the second quarter. Patterson dunked and Wallace nailed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining, giving Portland a five-point halftime edge.
The Blazers took their largest lead, 56-48, on a 3-pointer by Anderson 90 seconds into the third period. But Minnesota outscored Portland, 17-7, over the next five minutes and went ahead, 65-63, on two free throws by Billups with 5:24 left.
Patterson's basket with 2:58 remaining knotted it at 68-68, but the Timberwolves took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. Shawn Kemp
put Portland back in front, 87-81, with 7:03 left. Minnesota scored 10 of the next 12 points, a stretch capped by Szczerbiak's 3-pointer with just over four minutes to play. But Wallace's basket tied it at 91-91 with 3:37 remaining.
"We were able to take control of the game and tempo when we went to our zone and fell behind a little bit, and that kind of got us back in the game," Saunders said. Gary Trent
chipped in nine points and six rebounds and Radoslav Nesterovic
scored eight for the Wolves, who shot 51 percent (37-for-73) and held a 40-30 rebounding advantage. They made 12-of-17 free throws while Portland went to the line just seven times, making four.
Minnesota played without forward Joe Smith
, who has a right calf injury. The Timberwolves have been without point guard Terrell Brandon
since December 18 and Billups suffered a chest injury in the first half.
"We had to check whether (Billups) cracked his ribs or strained his ribs," Saunders said. "He played the second half in a lot of pain and couldn't breathe very well. It was a gutsy performance."
Anderson had 16 points and Bonzi Wells
seven as the Blazers shot 48 percent and committed just seven turnovers.