Wolves Follow Pack, Get Win No. 40 Against Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, March 1 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Gary Trent
added 17 points off the bench as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Utah Jazz, 116-105, becoming the fourth team to reach the 40-win plateau.
Wally Szczerbiak netted 17 points and 11 rebounds and William Avery chipped in 14 points off the bench as the Timberwolves joined Dallas, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers as the only teams with 40 wins.
"It was an unbelievable team effort," Szczerbiak said. "We had guys coming in off the bench that were really, really committed to playing well."
The Jazz pulled within 102-99 on two free throws by John Stockton with 4:12 left. But a bucket by Sam Mitchell and two free throws apiece by Trent and Chauncey Billups rebuilt Minnesota's lead.
The foul-filled contest featured 87 free-throw attempts. Minnesota made 37-of-43 foul shots while the Jazz put up 44 attempts from the line, converting 33.
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KG and the Wolves are keeping pace with the NBA's elite, notching their 40th win of the season.
"You talk a lot of times about winning as a team, there's no question that for us I think our depth helped us a lot," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said.
Karl Malone and Bryon Russell scored 25 points apiece and Stockton added 21 for Utah, which lost for just the second time in the last nine games.
"I don't even want to waste my money giving it back to the league, I'll just leave it at that," Russell said when asked about the numerous fouls. "I mean, we gave up 116 points and they helped give away most of them."
Stockton shrugged off the whistles.
"Regardless of the type of officiating, you have to put it out of your head and play. That's my job every night," he said.
The Jazz had a four-game home winning streak snapped, losing at the Delta Center for the first time in Utah since January 26. They spent nine games on the road last month while Salt Lake City hosted the Olympics.
Garnett also collected four steals and three blocks while going 8-of-13 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line.
Utah had three players shoot at least 10 free throws. Malone hit 9-of-12, Russell 9-of-10 and Andrei Kirilenko 6-of-10.
The Timberwolves complemented their 86 percent free-throw shooting by making 52 percent (38-of-73) of their shots from the field.
"They shot 51 percent in the first half and I thought we would do a little better defensively in the second half," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "It ended up 54 or 52 percent, so they shot even better in the second half."
Minnesota has won all three meetings with the Jazz this season.