Minnesota 78, Indiana 71

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 23 (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers found out the hard way what happens when Kevin Garnett decides to take over.

Garnett had 29 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, and the Timberwolves beat the Pacers 78-71 Saturday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Throughout his 12-year career, the star forward has gladly shared the scoring load with his teammates. The Pacers had no such luck on Saturday - Garnett took 26 shots -- the most he has attempted this season -- and made 14.

With the Timberwolves reeling, Garnett decided it was time to dominate.

"I just said I'm not going to let us be like this,'' Garnett said. "I'm going be assertive more than ever. To hell with the offense.''

Garnett got help from his team's defense. The Timberwolves held the Pacers to 39 percent shooting and a season-low point total.

The Pacers scored 21 points in the second half. It was the third-fewest points an NBA team has scored in a second half since the shot clock was introduced in 1954.

"I thought our defense was better in the second half,'' Garnett said. ``We were more connected, came out with a lot more energy. At the end of the day, defense won this game for us.''

Jamaal Tinsley scored 22 points and Jermaine O'Neal added 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Pacers despite battling the flu.

The Pacers had won two in a row and four of five. They took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, but shot 5-for-20 in the final period and finished with their lowest point total of the season.

Indiana shot 75 percent in the first quarter, but 39 percent for the game. The Pacers were disappointed that they failed to maintain their offensive intensity after the first quarter, and weren't sure why they couldn't.

"Your guess is as good as mine,'' guard Stephen Jackson said. "I have no idea. Jamaal played hard, but not the rest of us. It was like they knew all our plays. Just another game we let slip away.''

The Pacers took a 32-20 lead after one quarter, led by as many as 16 points in the second and were ahead 50-40 at halftime.

"Any time you go up big, you want to step on the other team's neck and keep them down,'' Jackson said. ``We just didn't keep it up tonight.''

Minnesota started the second half on an 8-0 run, including two baskets by Garnett and two by Justin Reed, to cut Indiana's lead to 50-48. The Timberwolves tied it at 51 on Craig Smith's free throw with 5:44 left in the third quarter and finally took a 57-55 lead on Garnett's long jumper.

The Pacers made just two field goals in the third quarter, but Sarunas Jasikevicius made a key one, a short leaning jumper in the lane with 9.6 seconds left. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw to give the Pacers a 58-57 lead at the end of the period.

The Pacers failed to take advantage of getting the Timberwolves into the penalty with more than 6 minutes left in the third period and got away with shooting 2-for-16 from the field in the quarter.

The luck eventually ran out.

"We just came out staggering in the third quarter,'' Indiana forward Danny Granger said. "It was like we ran out of gas. We know how to play from behind. We've got to learn how to play from ahead.''

Notes: Minnesota G Trenton Hassell was deactivated before the game because of the flu. A team spokesman said Hassell woke up ill Saturday morning and stayed at the team hotel. Hassell had started every game this season, and the Timberwolves had used the same starting lineup for all 22 games. ... Minnesota F Mark Madsen airballed a free throw attempt in the first quarter and some of his own teammates laughed at him. ... Indiana's 32 points in the first quarter was its best first period of the season.


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