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Playoffs: Round 1 vs. Denver | Round 2 vs. Sacramento

Fresh off their first playoff series win in franchise history, the Timberwolves matched up with the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals, with the Wolves holding homecourt advantage.

But after Game 1, that advantage belonged to Sacramento. Mike Bibby scored 14 first-quarter points as the Kings jumped out to a 34-27 lead after one quarter. The Wolves narrowed the gap to one at halftime, and then one again with under four minutes remaining after Sam Cassell hit four three-pointers and Fred Hoiberg one in the fourth quarter, but Bibby responded with back-to-back shots and then assisted Chris Webber's jumper that put the Kings up seven as Sacramento escaped with a 104-98 win.

Cassell finished with 40 points, his second 40-point outing of the playoffs, while Trenton Hassell had 17 and Kevin Garnett had 16 points with 18 rebounds on the night he received the 2003-04 NBA MVP trophy.

Game 2 didn't look much better for the Wolves. The Kings led by 10 points with 4:11 to go, and Minnesota faced the prospect of heading to Sacramento down 2-0 in the series. Cassell then led the Wolves on a 16-1 run to close the game as the Kings missed their last eight shots. Latrell Sprewell hit a layup to start the run, after he had hit only 5 of 12 shots to that point. Garnett made two free throws, then Cassell pulled the Wolves to within three on a three-pointer. He then rebounded a Bibby miss and hit a running jumper.

After a Kings timeout, Garnett hit two free throws to put the Wolves up one point, a lead they would not lose the remainder of the game. Cassell hit another jumper to put the Wolves up three, and three free throws by the Wolves and one by the Kings rounded out the scoring in a 94-89 Minnesota win. The comeback was the Wolves' second-biggest in team playoff history.

Garnett finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, one of five Wolves players in double figures. Cassell had 19 points and seven rebounds, while Hoiberg scored 13 off the bench, including four three-pointers. Ervin Johnson had 11 rebounds.

With the series tied at a game apiece, the teams traveled west for the next two games. The Timberwolves built a 10-point cushion after three quarters in Game 3 and extended the lead to 15 points with 6:33 left in regulation before Sacramento began a comeback of its own. Peja Stojakovic hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one with 10.7 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime, as the Kings closed regulation with a 27-8 run. Sacramento knocked the ball away from the Wolves' last-chance shot at the end of the fourth quarter, and the two teams headed to overtime for the third time of the season and fifth of their last nine meetings overall.

In the extra session, the Kings took the fiirst lead when Stojakovic hit a jumper, then Garnett tied the game with two free throws. Trenton Hassell hit two free throws to put the Wolves ahead, then the Kings reclaimed the lead off another Stojakovic three-pointer. Garnett gave the Wolves the lead in the final lead change of the game with two more free throws, then he hit a turnaround jumper to put the Wolves up three. Stojakovic closed the gap to two with two free throws, and after a Wolves turnover with four seconds remaining, Hassell blocked Stojakovic's desperation shot at the buzzer as the Wolves held on for a 114-113 win.

Garnett finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds in Game 3, while Sprewell had 25, Hassell had 16 and Hoiberg had 14 off the bench. Stojakovic had all nine of his team's points in overtime and finished with 29, while Doug Christie had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Bibby had 19 points and 10 assists, and Webber had 17 points and nine rebounds.

The Kings evened the score in Game 4. Webber scored 12 first-quarter points as Sacramento took a six-point lead after the first quarter, then extended the lead to as many as 17 before taking an 11-point halftime lead. The Wolves went on a run to tie the game at 53 with 2:33 left in the third quarter, but the Kings regained the lead and never lost it in the fourth in an 87-81 win.

Garnett led the Wolves with 19 points and 21 rebounds as the Wolves outrebounded the Kings 46-33, but Minnesota committed 24 turnovers, a club playoff record. Gary Trent had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Game 5 was back at Target Center. The Kings jumped out to a nine-point first-quarter lead, but the Wolves tied the game at the end of the quarter as Garnett scored seven points and Mark Madsen scored five points off the bench. Sprewell then scored 11 of his game-high 34 points in the second quarter as the Wolves took the lead for good.

The Wolves held just a three-point lead, 60-57, when Garnett hit back-to-back shots, including a fast-break dunk to close scoring in the third. Sprewell then hit consecutive jumpers to push the lead to 11 and the Wolves led by as many as 15 before settling for an 86-74 win.

Sprewell added seven rebounds and six assists to his second 30-point game of the playoffs.Garnett had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Madsen lead the team in rebounds with a career-high 13. Wally Szczerbiak made his return from an injury suffered in the first-round series but didn't score in six minutes.

A one-game trip back to Sacramento for Game 6 followed, with the Wolves holding a 3-2 series lead. The Kings staved off elimination with an 104-87 win, but former Timberwolf Anthony Peeler was ejected late in the third quarter and would be suspended for Game 7.

Sprewell made 6-of-7 three-pointers for 27 points, Garnett added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Szczerbiak had 12 points off the bench.

With the series tied 3-3, the Wolves faced the first Game 7 in franchise history. Garnett scored 32 points with 21 rebounds tying an NBA playoff record with 20 defensive rebounds on his 28th birthday, leading the Wolves to an 83-80 win.

Minnesota took a 10-point lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 13 before the Kings went on a run to take a one-point lead with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Cassell hit a three-pointer late in the third to reclaim the lead for the Wolves and then Garnett took over in the fourth, scoring 14 of his team's 21 points. His slam dunk with 5:03 to go put the Wolves up 74-68, and after the Kings cut the lead to four, he hit a three-pointer only his second of the series.

The Kings fought back, forcing the Wolves to commit five turnovers in the final three minutes. Sacramento pulled to within four on Bibby's three-pointer with 1:42 remaining, and then got to within one on Christie's "three" with 17 seconds to go. Cassell hit two free throws to push the lead back to three, then Christie missed a three-pointer, Garnett blocked Brad Miller's layup attempt, and Webber's three-point attempt rimmed out as time expired.

Cassell added 23 points and seven assists, while Sprewell had 14 points and Szczerbiak had 10 in a bench appearance. With the Wolves' eighth win of the 2004 playoffs, they surpassed their win total in all seven previous playoff appearances (7-22 from 1997-2003).

The Wolves advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. The opponent: the Los Angeles Lakers, who ended the Wolves' 2003 season in the first round.

Game 1: Kings 104, Wolves 98
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Game 2: Wolves 94, Kings 89
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Fourth-quarter run
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Game 3: Wolves 114, Kings 113 (OT)
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Game 4: Kings 87, Wolves 81
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Game 5: Wolves 86, Kings 74
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Game 6: Kings 104, Wolves 87
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Game 7: Wolves 83, Kings 80
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NBA Playoffs: Round 2
High Pts
High Reb
May 4
Cassell 40
Garnett 18
May 8
Garnett 28
Garnett 11
Johnson 11
May 10
Garnett 30
Garnett 15
May 12
Garnett 19
Garnett 21
May 14
Sprewell 34
Madsen 13
May 16
Sprewell 27
Garnett 10
May 19
Garnett 32
Garnett 21

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