MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 2 (Ticker) --
With the "Big Three" on the bench, it was only a matter of time before the "Big Ticket" took over.
Kevin Garnett scored 13 of his 22 points in the pivotal third quarter as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks for the sixth straight time, 95-77.
The Bucks were without their top three scorers -- All-Stars Ray Allen (knee tendinitis) and Glenn Robinson (thigh bruise) and point guard Sam Cassell (sprained neck). Known as the "Big Three," they combine to average more than 63 points per game.
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Anthony Peeler made most of these Wednesday.
Garnett, an All-Star himself, may have been champing at the bit. He missed his first four shots and was just 3-of-11 in the first half, which ended with Minnesota holding a one-point lead.
Garnett came alive in the third quarter, when the Timberwolves took control for good. He fueled an 11-2 run that opened the second half and scored two of the final three baskets of the period as Minnesota built a 78-63 lead.
"In the second half, we just let the game come to us," Garnett said. "We also settled down. It's one thing to bring energy, but it's another to play out of your structure and that's what we did in the first half."
"I thought we were a bit sluggish in the first half, but we came out in the second half and took control of the game in the third quarter," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said.
Garnett added 19 rebounds and five assists for the Wolves, who swept the series for the third straight season. They have not lost to the Bucks since March 28, 1999.
"You prepare normally," Garnett said. "The team (Bucks) is going to come out and compete. It sure looked like we didn't prepare well in the first half."
Anthony Peeler scored 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 15 for Minnesota, which has won five of six overall despite being a bit shorthanded itself. The Wolves played without guard Terrell Brandon (knee) and forward Joe Smith (left calf).
"You weren't worried about who they had," Peeler said. "We're worried about working on Terrell and Joe and keeping the rest of our troops healthy."
"As the saying in basketball goes, as the game wears on, talent comes out," Bucks coach George Karl said.
Reserves Michael Redd, Tim Thomas and Rafer Alston moved into the starting lineup and were more than the "Little Three," combining for 52 points. But they also combined to shoot just 20-of-55 and were the Bucks' only scorers in double figures.
"You approach it like every other game," Redd said. "You've got to. If you think you're going into a game with eight guys, you're gonna lose. You can't think that way."
"We believe that we can do it just as well," Alston said. "We played well for the first half. Unfortunately, you've got to play two halves. We're gonna learn from this. We're building confidence."
Milwaukee shot just 35 percent (28-of-80) and was held to its second-lowest total of the season.
Minnesota scored 11 of the first 13 points of the second half. Garnett was instrumental with a 3-pointer and 16-footer before Szczerbiak's driving dunk made it 58-48 with 7:43 left in the third quarter.
"The big difference for us in the second half is we settled down," Garnett said. "We made some stops and we got a lot of different people touches."
The teams traded baskets for a bit and a jumper by Thomas made it 63-55 before the Wolves scored nine of the next 10 points to push the lead to 72-56 with 2:22 remaining.
Garnett was quiet with just two points during that stretch but re-emerged with two straight jumpers.
"He's an All-Star. He's a great player," Redd said. "He started out slow but caught fire in the second half and did a great job on the boards."
Milwaukee never threatened, scoring just 14 points in the final period, when it trailed by 24 points.
Chauncey Billups had 10 points and nine assists for Minnesota, which shot 41 percent (36-of-87).
Redd scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Thomas added 20 on 8-of-24 from the field and Alston 10 on 3-of-11. He also handed out eight assists.
"Michael Redd is going to be a very good player," Karl said. "I call him a low-volume scorer, while some guys in this league are high-volume scorers. He earns his points. He doesn't need to take a lot of shots for him to score points."
The trio combined for 15 points in the first quarter, helping the Bucks to a 23-19 lead. But in the second period, Milwaukee went to its bench, much of which already was starting.
Peeler, who closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer, scored 12 in the second period to give Minnesota a 47-46 lead.