MEMPHIS, Tenn, March 21 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
collected 25 points and 14 rebounds and Chauncey Billups
scored 19 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves struggled past the lowly Memphis Grizzlies, 95-93.
The Timberwolves let a nine-point lead dwindle to 91-89 with 55 seconds left. But Garnett hit a bucket and two free throws around Pau Gasol's
basket, and Memphis point buard Jason Williams
turned over the ball in the final seconds.
It was just the third win in the 11 games for Minnesota, which has a one-half game lead over sixth-place Portland in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
"One of the things we've got to do is stay consistent," Garnett said. "It's not time for us to be taking two steps back and I wanted to make sure we as a team didn't take a step back tonight. ... It was an ugly win, but we'll take it."
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Kevin Garnett played a huge part in the Wolves' victory, scoring seven in the fourth quarter.
scored 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting and Williams chipped in 16 and 10 assists for the Grizzlies, who blew a fourth-quarter lead for the third time in four games.
The Timberwolves had a chance to tie or go ahead in the final seconds but Williams, hounded by defender Robert Pack
, committed a backcourt violation when he dribbled the ball off his own leg.
"Robert comes in and makes a great play at the end," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "Anytime you can put a defender in and they don't even get off a shot, that's a big play."
"I was pressuring him, but I think when he made his move I was so close he dribbled the ball off his foot," Pack said. Felipe Lopez
had a big second half off the bench. In addition to scoring all 11 of his points, he held a red-hot Battier to four in the fourth quarter. Entering the game with the score tied at 63-63 midway through the third, Lopez sank a jumper and a 3-pointer to give Minnesota some breathing room.
"I've been shutting a lot of people out in the NBA," said Lopez, who held Battier to one field goal attempt in the fourth. "I'm known for my defense and Flip has a lot of faith in me. I do my job.
"It was good I was able to come into the game and do my duty defensively, and at the same time, give the team a spark offensively."
But Memphis, which has lost four straight and 13 of its last 15, chipped away and forged ahead, 80-79, on Lorenzen Wright's
basket with 8:31 left. The advantage was short-lived, however, as the Wolves went on a 9-0 run that Joe Smith
capped with two free throws with 4:41 left.
Smith and Rasho Nesterovic
each finished with 12 points as Minnesota shot 47 percent (39-of-83) from the field and 13-of-19 from the foul line while improving to 23-4 all-time against the Grizzlies and 3-8 in March.
Gasol netted 21 points and eight boards and Rodney Buford
added 13 points for the Timberwolves, who shot 48 percent (36-of-75) from the field and held a 44-38 rebounding advantage.
"We got back in the game and gave a great effort," Gasol said. "On the last play, we just couldn't do it. I think we've got to be happy about this game for our effort."
Memphis came out strong and took a 34-27 lead after one quarter. The Grizzlies took their biggest advantage at 47-33 on Buford's 3-pointer with 6:58 left in the second quarter.
After calling a timeout, Minnesota scored the next 15 points to take a 48-47 lead on Billups' bucket with 2:15 left.
"We had a chance to control the game," Grizzlies coach Sidney Lowe said. "I told the guys that we were in a position where they were chasing us, all we had to do was move the ball around and make shots. That's just inexperience. I give our guys credit, though, because they came back."