Wolves post fifth straight double-digit win


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- For one surreal stretch, the Minnesota Timberwolves kept getting the ball over and over again.

Kevin Garnett scored 24 points, Joe Smith added 15, and Terrell Brandon had 10 of his 14 in the decisive third quarter as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Utah Jazz 98-87 on Wednesday night.

After a competitive first half during which Utah led 52-51, the Timberwolves broke it open in the third quarter when they outscored the Jazz 31-13.

"We challenged them," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We came out in the second half and really took control of the game, grabbed it by the throat and did a nice job on the boards."

One sequence in particular characterized the lopsided victory, Minnesota's fifth straight double-digit win.

The Jazz couldn't score on their first five possessions of the third period, enabling the Timberwolves to run away on a 19-8 burst. But things got ugly for Utah when Minnesota kept the ball for a span of 1:40.

"I don't know if there's ever been a possession that long in the history of the game," Saunders said.

It started with Minnesota leading 72-62 and 5:41 on the clock.

Garnett missed a 3-pointer, but Brandon got the rebound and set
up the offense again. Garnett missed a 21-footer but this time
Wally Szczerbiak grabbed the rebound, then missed a 7-footer.

The ball went out of bounds off the Jazz. Szczerbiak missed a
layup but got his own rebound and worked it to Brandon, who missed
a 20-footer. Greg Ostertag had the rebound but couldn't handle it,
and it went out of bounds.

A short time later, Garnett went airborne for a power dunk but bounced it high off the back of the rim. Brandon ran deep in the backcourt to corral it near where Saunders stood on the sideline.

Brandon finally finished the possession by swishing a 19-footer for a 74-62 lead with 4:01 remaining in the third.

"It was odd," Brandon said. "We just kept getting offensive
rebounds, getting it back on tipped balls and from going out of
bounds. It was strange, but we just stayed aggressive. Hustle plays
were very, very important for us."

Minnesota ended Utah's four-game winning streak. The Jazz (10-12), who had warmed up recently after stumbling to their worst start in 19 seasons, couldn't quite pull to .500.

"They just got hot and we couldn't hang onto the ball," Ostertag said. "You get down to a team like that and they make it hard to come back."

Karl Malone scored 20 for Utah but he was held to two in the
second half and the Jazz were outrebounded 13-6 in the third
period. DeShawn Stevenson had 16 points and Andrei Kirilenko 11.

"They had us running all over ourselves," Utah coach Jerry
Sloan said. "We really lost our composure at the start of the
third quarter. We didn't look very athletic out there tonight."

Officially, Utah had only four turnovers in the third but the
mistakes were off the chart. The Jazz were out of position
defensively, couldn't reel in loose balls and didn't get many calls
from the officials.

When the third-quarter horn finally sounded, thousands of
frustrated fans booed. With Minnesota leading 89-71 near the
six-minute mark of the fourth, they started heading for the exits.

"Our execution wasn't very good in the third quarter," Malone
said. "It's the same old story. Win, and you get applauded. You
lose, and you get booed."

The Jazz's reserves made a late surge, pulling within 95-86 on a
basket by Scott Padgett with 1:15 remaining but that was as close
as Utah got.

Game notes
Felipe Lopez, placed on the injured list Wednesday with a
hip contusion, didn't travel with the Timberwolves. ... John
Stockton's 10 points put him at 18,001 over his 18-year career. ...
Minnesota has won six of its last nine games against the Jazz. ...
Utah's last five-game winning streak came in February. ... Smith
was ejected after a flagrant foul on Kirilenko with 21.4 seconds to