MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 4 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak
nearly beat the Utah Jazz by himself.
Szczerbiak scored 26 of his career-high 37 points in the second half, when the Minnesota Timberwolves stormed back for a 93-86 victory over the Jazz, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Szczerbiak made 14-of-24 shots and all seven of his free throws as he eclipsed his previous high of 35 against New York on November 6. He led Minnesota to its third straight win.
"We need someone to step up and create offense at times," said Szczerbiak. "In the first half I was really into the game but I wasn't doing a good job defensively. In the second half I just wanted to come out and not let us lose."
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Wally Szczerbiak's 26 second-half points were just five less than the entire Jazz team could muster after the break.
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In the second half, the 6-7 guard scored just five fewer points than the Jazz, who went cold and squandered an 11-point halftime lead. They scored just 12 points in the third quarter, when Szczerbiak scored 10 points, and 19 in the final period, when Szczerbiak took over with 16.
One of the game's best shooters, Szczerbiak instead took the ball to the basket with strong drives or short pull-up jumpers.
"Shooting all of those outside shots gets our team in a comfort zone where we don't attack the basket enough," Szczerbiak said. "In the second half, that's where I did most of my damage -- by attacking the basket. That's what the coaches have wanted us to do."
"He did everything you could ask a guy to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I tried everything I could, by putting three different guys on him. Maybe it wasn't the right thing. Maybe I should have kept only one guy on him and let him score 80."
had 19 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for the Timberwolves, who defeated the Jazz for the fourth straight time. Garnett also limited Karl Malone
to three points in the second half.
Malone scored 15 points on just 6-of-18 shooting. The Jazz had six players in double figures but fell to 0-2 against Minnesota this season.
"It's kind of interesting to watch a team do all the things we used to do -- hit the open guy, screen, run the offense to death and do a terrific job of taking advantage of all the little nuances," Sloan said.
Malone scored six points and Stockton five in a 13-0 burst late in the second quarter that gave Utah a 52-39 lead. The Jazz took a 55-44 advantage into halftime.
"We just weren't in sync in the first half," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We weren't playing hard. We were giving up too many layups, something you can't do against this team."
Szczerbiak took over from there. He scored eight points in a 12-4 run that opened the third quarter and pulled the Wolves within 59-56 midway through the period.
Minnesota trailed 67-62 entering the final period but a jumper by Szczerbiak provided a 68-67 edge. His 20-footer gave the Wolves the lead for good at 74-72 with 6:41 remaining.
"He just wouldn't take no for an answer," said Jazz guard John Stockton.
Szczerbiak made a 3-pointer for an 82-75 advantage with 4:25 to play. Bryon Russell
made a 3-pointer to pull Utah within 86-82, but Szczerbiak made three free throws to restore the seven-point lead with 1:48 left.
"What can you say about Wally?" Saunders said. "I told him that I don't know if I have been in a situation where I have loved and hated a guy more, even on the same play.
"I told Wally he was the first guy in the history of the NBA to get a steal and a bucket both on the offensive end. There was a pass that was going to Felipe (Lopez),
and Wally stole it almost out of his hands and knocked down the shot."
had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota, which shot 48 percent (37-of-77) and held a 47-34 advantage on the glass.
Stockton had 13 points and 11 assists and Russell and Donyell Marshall
scored 12 points each for the Jazz, who shot 46 percent (36-of-79).