SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 8 (Ticker) -- Sam Cassell
and Kevin Garnett
put the Minnesota Timberwolves in great position to
secure home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference
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Cassell scored 29 points and Garnett added 24 and 17 rebounds as
the Timberwolves moved atop the conference standings with a
94-86 come-from-behind win over the Sacramento Kings.
Minnesota (55-24), which has won six straight, moved one-half
game ahead of Sacramento (54-24) atop the conference. The
Timberwolves won three of four meetings with the Kings this
season and secure home-court advantage by taking their final
"As a kid, my mom told me it's easy to get to the top, (but)
staying on top is the hardest thing to do," Garnett said. "I
think that applies now. We're in a position to create our own
destiny. What we have to do now is sustain that and stay
consistent with our play. And that starts tomorrow night (at
"I think they wanted to win and I think they controlled," Kings
coach Rick Adelman said. "They've got the best record in the
West and that's what they're trying to accomplish. This is a
big win for them, so I'm sure they feel good about it."
The Timberwolves trailed by 11 points just over four minutes
into the second half and 69-61 heading to the fourth quarter.
But Garnett began the period with back-to-back baskets and Wally Szczerbiak
nailed a 3-pointer to pull Minnesota within 69-68
with 10:06 left.
"I told our guys at the beginning of the fourth quarter that we
were in the exact same situation the last time we played here (a
112-109 overtime triumph on Dec. 5)," Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said. "We made some key shots, we put a little bit of
pressure on, turned up the defense a little bit. And we put us
in a situation that you want down the stretch to have a chance
to make some plays to win the game."
The Timberwolves took the lead for good, 77-75, on a layup by
with 5:12 remaining. Cassell hit a jumper with
1:59 left to make it 83-79 before Sacramento's Mike Bibby
missed a fast-break layup.
"I missed a layup, I just missed it," Bibby said.
The Timberwolves took advantage of the miscue, opening a
six-point lead on a follow shot by Ervin Johnson
with 1:17 to
play. Seemingly deflated by the sequence, Sacramento got no
closer than four points.
"We just hung in there," Cassell said. "We understand that we
need to give ourselves a chance to win every night. That's what
we did tonight. In the third quarter, they got off to a good
run. We cut the lead to four, they brought it back to nine.
but that showed signs of our ballclub and the character this team
has - to never give up."
"Sam was rushing a lot of things (early)," Garnett said. "Once
he settled down and we kept it simple and we started to move the
ball a little bit, everyone got touches, from Kandi (Michael Olowokandi
) to Spree and Sam also. Then it was just a matter of
who took the shots and when they took them."
The Kings were outrebounded, 48-40, and allowed Olowokandi to
grab seven offensive rebounds, including three in the fourth
"It concerns me - we lost - but it happens when you don't
rebound the ball," Adelman said. "We got impatient offensively.
I know we took tough shots and they turned it up and made some
big shots at their end, got the momentum going, but I think for
the most part we played hard. We just didn't play well
contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds and Bibby
added 19 points for the Kings, who hold a one-game lead over the
Los Angeles Lakers (53-23) atop the Pacific Division.
"Screw it, this game is over - we are already looking to
tomorrow's game (at Phoenix)," said Kings forward Brad Miller
who had eight points before fouling out with 4:18 remaining.
"We still control our future in the Pacific. We got to make
sure we take care of business there."
"(Playing tomorrow) helps," said Kings guard Bobby Jackson
had 10 points in his return from a 24-game absence with an
abdominal strain. "Every game counts. We've got to try and end
the season with four (wins) in a row."