MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 25 (Ticker) -- Sam Cassell
's clutch play was nothing
new. Kevin Garnett
's physical play was a pleasant surprise.
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Cassell scored 12 of his 32 points in the final three minutes
and Garnett muscled his way for the go-ahead basket as the
Minnesota Timberwolves edged the Phoenix Suns, 99-95, for their
11th straight home win.
The Timberwolves (30-12) have won four in a row and nine of 10
to move into a tie with the Sacramento Kings for the best record
in the Western Conference. They have not lost at home since
December 9 against Golden State.
"Being one of the best teams in our conference, it becomes a big
game for our opponent, especially on the road," Minnesota coach
said. "It's a change in mind-set from being the
hunter to being the hunted. ... Our mind-set has to change to
being the hunted."
Cassell continued his push for his first All-Star berth as he
made two 3-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch. He
made 10-of-21 shots and added six assists.
"The coaching staff told me to stop being hesitant when taking
shots," he said. "That's why I missed so many shots in the
first half. ... (My teammates) were telling me, 'If you're open,
take your shot. Nobody cares how many shots you take.'"
"What can you say about Sam? He's unbelievable," Saunders said.
"He was huge down the stretch. He's not afraid to take the
Garnett had his usual spectacular all-around game with 19
points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Normally
somewhat of a finesse player, the slender 7-footer muscled his
way past Jake Voskuhl
and a pair of help defenders for a short
bank shot that gave the Wolves the lead for good at 90-88 with
Garnett was so into the game he didn't realize his team had tied
"I'm not even aware of the standings. I could care less," he
said. "The fact that you're in the dark about where you are
helps you to keep a focus on what's in front of you."
After Phoenix's Shawn Marion
missed a runner, Latrell Sprewell
made two free throws for a 94-90 edge with 42 seconds to go. The
Suns never had the ball and a chance to tie thanks to Cassell,
who drained six foul shots in the last 30 seconds.
scored a season-high 15 points for Minnesota,Trenton Hassell
picking up the slack for Sprewell, who managed just four on
"I know that they've been on me for not shooting when I'm open,"
Marion had 31 points and 13 boards for Phoenix, which has lost
seven straight visits to the Target Center.
Minnesota trailed, 83-82, when Cassell pulled up in front of
Brazilian rookie guard Leandro Barbosa
and drilled a 3-pointer.
After two free throws by Joe Johnson
gave the Suns an 85-85
tie, Cassell struck again from the arc at the 2:14 mark.
"You have a guy who last year was playing in Sao Paulo that
probably doesn't know that," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni
"You can tell him a hundred times, but until you experience Sam
shooting right in your face at crunch time ... He'll know the
A drive by Marion and free throw by Voskuhl tied the game for
the last time before Garnett's basket.
Johnson scored 22 points.