MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 9 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak
caught Carmelo Anthony
standing still and helped the Minnesota Timberwolves take a
badly needed step forward.
Szczerbiak's hustle led to a key three-point play by Eddie Griffin
with 1:13 to play as the Timberwolves snapped a
season-high six-game slide with a 98-92 victory over the Denver
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Currently out of the playoff picture, the Timberwolves had blown
an 18-point lead and were having trouble corralling tiny Earl Boykins
. They trailed, 88-87, after a jumper by Anthony with
made two free throws to give Minnesota the lead for
good before the key play of the game. Hudson shot an airball
that Anthony stood on the baseline and watched, waiting for it
to go out of bounds.
"That was a big play for them," Anthony said. "I thought it was
out (of bounds), so I let it go. But somebody flew in and saved
Szczerbiak leaped around Anthony's blind side and deflected the
ball back in bounds. Griffin grabbed it and put in a short shot
while being fouled. His free throw made it 92-88 with 1:13 to
"I saw that Melo was letting the ball go," Szczerbiak said. "I
ran at it and ended up taking out a little girl in the first
row. But I knew that Eddie was under the basket, so I tipped it
in that direction and he made the play for us."
"We lost some concentration there at the end," Denver coach
George Karl said. "It's hard to beat a good team on the road
when you give them extra possessions at key times of the game.
But give credit to Minnesota. They were really hustling at the
end of the game."
Griffin had not played until the fourth quarter, when he scored
all 10 of his points.
"I thought (Griffin) played unbelievable," Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said. "He showed a lot of character to sit for as long
as he did and to come in the last ten minutes and make the
plays that he made."
"He was huge," Anthony said. "Ten points in less than 10
minutes, a bunch of rebounds, two dunks. He was the key for
The 5-5 Boykins made two free throws, running his streak to 51
in a row, before Kevin Garnett
made a lane jumper with 41
Boykins, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter,
made a spectacular running lefthander over the 7-1 Garnett, who
answered with two game-clinching free throws with 10 seconds
"Earl is a great player," Garnett said. "Regardless of his
size, he's one of the best 1-on-1 players anywhere in
Garnett finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for
Minnesota (25-25), which had dropped under .500 for the first
time this season. Szczerbiak added 19 points as he picked up the
slack for Sam Cassell
, who sat out with a hamstring strain.
"Tonight we made some key plays at crucial times," Szczerbiak
said. "Those kinds of plays turn a game around, and those are
the plays that haven't been going for us the past six games."
Anthony scored 21 points and Kenyon Martin added 16 for the
Nuggets, who fell to 5-2 under Karl in the opener of a five-game
"Eddie always plays his heart out," Garnett said. "He's going to
come in and shoot the ball. He's definitely not shy. Once he
gets it going, he's going to put up a lot of points."
Denver, which trailed by 18 points in the second quarter, opened
its largest lead at 82-75 on a jumper by Andre Miller midway
through the fourth quarter. Szczerbiak had a jumper and
three-point play before Griffin's first hoop tied it with 4:09
Boykins made two free throws but Griffin sank a 3-pointer,
beginning a stretch of five lead changes.