MINNEAPOLIS, March 8 (Ticker) --
Another strong effort from Kevin Garnett
assured the Minnesota Timberwolves of just their third
three-game winning streak this season.
Garnett scored 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his
league-leading 52nd double-double, leading the Timberwolves to a
102-97 triumph over the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.
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The win avenged Minnesota's 102-84 loss at Charlotte on Jan.
"(The Bobcats) came out really aggressive, just like the last
time we played," Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen
thought we could go down there and beat them, but they cleaned
Winners of their previous two games, the Timberwolves were
seeking their first three-game run since winning five straight
from Jan. 21-28. They also won five in a row from Nov.
Things did not start off well for Minnesota. Charlotte put
together a 16-0 run capped by seven straight points from Jason Kapono
to grab a 25-11 advantage.
"The first quarter was tough for us," said Garnett, who also
blocked four shots. "We couldn't buy a basket. We had to run
up the street to the hardware store to buy a couple of baskets,
but they didn't deliver them until the third quarter."
"We started really strong in the first half," said Bobcats
center Primoz Brezec
, who scored 11 points over the first two
quarters. "We had a lot of energy and played good defense."
The Bobcats took a 53-42 edge into the break, leading to an
animated intermission by Timberwolves interim coach Kevin McHale
"Kevin really gave us a tongue-lashing at the half," Minnesota
forward Wally Szczerbiak
said. "He was intense. If you keep
making the same mistake over and over, he's going to let you
know about it."
"Kev challenges us on a nightly basis," Garnett said. "That's
pretty much what he does. He usually doesn't say too much to
people if he doesn't think they'll respond to it, but tonight he
let it be known that we need to accept these challenges."
The halftime speech worked as the Timberwolves came out with a
vengeance in the third period, outscoring the Bobcats, 31-14.
"In the third quarter, we came out with great energy," McHale
said. "We played hard in the third quarter. That's how we need
to start games - with that type of energy and aggression."
Garnett, who scored just eight points in the first half,
contributed 16 as Minnesota closed the period with a 23-8 burst
and a 73-67 cushion. The 30-point performance was the
All-Star's sixth of the season and second since a 47-point
effort against Phoenix on Jan. 4.
"We did a pretty good job (on Garnett) in the first quarter,"
Brezec said. "We contained all his shots, and he just got hot
in the second half. He's the MVP of the league, so he's going
to get his points and his rebounds."
"He made some great shots, but then that's why he's Garnett,"
Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
added. "That's why he's an
All-Star and that's why he is probably one of the best players
in the league. ... That's a helluva guy to be able to get the
scored 21 points and Szczerbiak added 15 for
the Timberwolves (31-30), who improved to 6-4 under McHale and
climbed above .500 for the first time since Feb. 3.
Minnesota shot 90 percent (26-of-29) from the foul line,
including an 11-of-11 performance by Szczerbiak.
"(We) did a good job of getting to the free-throw line," he
said. "We were being aggressive and taking the ball to the
basket, and made our free throws." "Wally got to the line 11
times," McHale said. "That's what we need in these types of
games - kind of muck it up and get to the line."
Brezec had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Kapono scored 15 points
and Jason Hart
added 14 and 10 assists for Charlotte, which has
lost four straight and 14 of 16.