MINNEAPOLIS, April 21 (Ticker) -- Latrell Sprewell
was the latest member
of the Minnesota Timberwolves to star alongside Kevin Garnett
NBA TV highlights from|
Sprewell made a franchise-record seven 3-pointers and scored 31
points, complementing a triple-double by Garnett and lifting the
Timberwolves to a 95-81 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The top-seeded Timberwolves again dusted the eighth-seeded
Nuggets and opened a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference
first-round series. Minnesota is halfway toward the first
playoff series win in franchise history.
Minnesota's Kevin Garnett notched his third career postseason triple-double on Wednesday.|
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In Game 1, Sam Cassell
worked the pick-and-roll with Garnett
to perfection as he scored a playoff career-high 40 points.
Garnett had 30 points and 20 rebounds in almost a supporting
The Nuggets appeared committed to slowing down Cassell and
Garnett. But Denver's efforts let loose the third head of
Minnesota's "three-headed monster." After sinking just
2-of-11 shots in Game 1, Sprewell made 11-of-17 in Game 2,
torching Denver's defense.
"I haven't played that well against Denver this year, so with
Sam and KG going for 40 and 30 (in Game 1) they kinda forgot
about me," he said. "I wanted to be aggressive tonight, but I
want to be aggressive every night. This is playoff basketball.
If you can't get up for these games, what are you going to get
"With this team, you have to pick your poison," said Cassell,
who scored 12 points. "KG is always going to get his. Tonight
they worked hard to shut me down, but Sprewell went off."
Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik knows he has his hands full with the
three stars of the Timberwolves.
"There's a reason Minnesota won 58 games," he said. "They're a
team that goes beyond a superstar in Kevin Garnett and a great
talent in Sam Cassell. We did our best to limit Cassell and
make Kevin earn his points. We did that, but Sprewell stuck a
dagger in us."
Garnett finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds and 10 assists for
his third career playoff triple-double. He made just 9-of-27
shots but also backstopped a defense that held the Nuggets to
nine points in the second quarter.
"I played like garbage," Garnett said, somewhat harsh on
himself. "But this is not a time to leave bullets in the gun.
I'm going to still come out shooting. But tonight I tried to do
different things, to get my teammates involved."
"KG had an average game for him, but he had 20, 22, and 10.
That's him," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "That's why
he's the MVP. His average game is better than anybody else's
Game 3 is Saturday at Denver, which has lost six straight
playoff games since 1994 and will be hosting a playoff game for
the first time in nine years. Minnesota has won 11 straight
games dating to the regular season.
In the first quarter, Sprewell had three 3-pointers and scored
14 points as he traded baskets and barbs with Nuggets guard
, who scored 15 of his 24 points in the period.
"You go out there and take a couple of shots and see if you're
hitting," Sprewell said. "Then you try to find the person that
is shooting well. Tonight that was me."
"Spree was hot," Lenard said. "I don't think he's shot the ball
like that all year."
Denver trailed, 28-27, after 12 minutes but fell apart in the
second quarter, when it made just 4-of-17 shots and committed
seven turnovers. Minnesota opened the quarter with a 9-0 run
and Sprewell had another 3-pointer in an 11-0 burst that gave
Minnesota a 50-36 halftime lead.
"The key for us was our defensive intensity," Saunders said.
"We turned it up in the second quarter and forced them to take
In the second half, Denver never got closer than 11 points.
Sprewell had a three-point play and 3-pointer that pushed the
advantage to 61-46 with 2:56 left in the third quarter. He iced
the win with another 3-pointer that made it 88-69 with 3:28
Cassell scored 12 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 11 off the
bench for Minnesota. Denver rookie Carmelo Anthony
had 15 points
and nine rebounds but committed seven turnovers.
"Coach was telling me to wait and let the game come to me, but I
think I waited too long," Anthony said.