Wolves Win Despite Knicks’ Comeback
Minnesota 98, New York 94
MINNEAPOLIS, March 26 (Ticker) -- For the second straight home game, the Minnesota Timberwolves built a huge lead and almost gave it away.
Kevin Garnett collected 26 points and 15 rebounds as the Timberwolves held on for a 98-94 victory over the New York Knicks, who staged an impressive fourth-quarter rally but suffered their fifth straight loss.
On Tuesday, the Timberwolves held a 17-point advantage heading into the final period before holding on for a 100-96 triumph over Miami. Sunday's affair had a similar pattern, although the Knicks are nowhere near the Heat's caliber.
"Everybody's going to make a run and when they did, we didn't collapse," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "It's not fun losing the lead, but the important thing is that we didn't give in."
Guard Marcus Banks, who collected 12 points and six assists, echoed the sentiments of his coach as the Timberwolves (29-41) momentarily averted their first losing season since 1996-97.
"We were feeling like 'Here we go again,'" Banks said. "But we'll take any kind of win we get right now."
Minnesota moved ahead midway through the first quarter as it broke open a three-point game with a 19-6 charge. The surge continued in the second quarter as the lead increased to as much as 55-30.
Ricky Davis and rookie Rashad McCants, who scored 21 and 17 points, respectively, helped the Timberwolves take an 80-61 advantage into the final 12 minutes.
"Tonight, we had an excellent start to the game," Casey said. "But you have to play the game the right way. You have to execute for 48 minutes, because if you don't, you don't have the confidence and the rhythm coming down the stretch."
The Knicks chipped away at their deficit behind reserve Jamal Crawford, who scored 13 of his 20 points in the final period.
Crawford and former Timberwolf Stephon Marbury each scored five points during a 15-3 charge capped by Marbury's layup with 9.2 seconds left that made it 94-92.
"We could have easily given up and moved on with our lives," Crawford said. "We all wanted to compete. That was embarrassing (in the first three quarters). Nobody wants to be embarrassed, so we had to get out there and play as hard as we can."
Marcus Banks split a pair of free throws for Minnesota, which made just 7-of-12 at the line in the fourth quarter. Jackie Butler's two free throws made it a one-point game with 6.8 ticks remaining.
The Knicks had a chance to tie after Davis went 1-of-2 from the line, but Butler was stripped by Anthony Carter, and Marco Jaric sealed the victory with two free throws.
Steve Francis scored 15 points and Marbury and Eddy Curry added 12 apiece for New York (19-50), which owns the second-worst record in the league.
"We did a great job in the second half," New York coach Larry Brown said. "There were a couple tough calls down the stretch, but when you are down 25, you have to be perfect. We got close, but did not get it done."