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Mavs make it six of last seven vs. T-Wolves

12/19/2001

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Being a backup hasn't hurt Tim Hardaway's
ability to come through in the clutch.

"I like taking big shots. I know I can make them," said
Hardaway, who scored five points in the final minute, including the
go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in the Dallas Mavericks'
107-103 comeback victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday
night.

"I was confident in my stroke, and it just went down,"
Hardaway said. "Down 22 and you come back in someone else's gym?
It just feels good."

The Mavericks rallied from a 22-point third-quarter deficit to
win their fourth straight game and their second against the
Timberwolves in four days.

Michael Finley had 21 of his 26 points in the second half. His
dunk tied it at 98 with 1:19 left, and Hardaway's 22-foot jumper
gave the Mavs their first lead since early in the first quarter --
100-98 with 46.8 seconds left.

Wally Szczerbiak tied it at 100 with a layup, but Hardaway's 3
gave the Mavs the lead for good. Kevin Garnett's 3-pointer would have
tied it on the next possession but rimmed out.

"You have to finish games out," said a dejected Garnett, who
scored 15 points but was 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter. "And as a
leader on this team, I have to make sure that everybody's heads are
right and be ready to do that. I was not aggressive enough tonight
for my teammates to follow."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Steve Nash had 23 for the
Mavericks, who have won six of seven against Minnesota.

Hardaway, adjusting to a reserve role behind Nash at point guard
in his first season with the Mavericks, finished with 15 points.

"Nash is doing it this year, but Hardaway off the bench makes
their team that much stronger," said the Timberwolves' Chauncey
Billups. "To have a guy like that coming off the bench, with his
history? Man."

Minnesota led 80-58 with 5:40 to go in the third quarter on a
basket by Szczerbiak. But Dallas outscored the Timberwolves 49-23
the rest of the way -- an intense, physical second half filled with
fouls and screaming at the officials by both teams.

"I enjoy the physical play," Nash said. "I grew up playing
hockey and rugby, so I'm used to it."

The Timberwolves, who dropped their second straight after a
six-game winning streak, blew their biggest lead ever. They had
wasted 21-point advantages twice before, in 1991 and 1993.

"This is a very disappointing loss," said Billups, who scored
a season-high 23 points as a last-minute starter at point guard for
Terrell Brandon. "We felt we had it under control. We knew their
history. They're a loosey-goosey team that likes to run up and down
the court and shoot. It just went their way."

Joe Smith scored 18 points and Szczerbiak added 13 for
Minnesota.

Garnett's fadeaway jumper with 1:57 left in the second quarter
made it 58-36 Minnesota, but Nash scored nine straight points to
cut the lead to 13 with 29 seconds remaining in the half.

"You don't win many games when you're down 22 in the third
quarter," said Dallas coach Don Nelson. "We're going to cherish
this one for as long as we can -- which is about 24 hours."

Game notes
Brandon was placed on the injured list minutes before the
game with a condition in his left knee called synovitis. Coach Flip
Saunders said Brandon first complained of soreness after practice
Monday. His status is day-to-day, but players must stay on the
injured list for a minimum of five games. ... Dallas F Adrian
Griffin left the game in the second quarter with back spasms. ...
Nowitzki and coach Don Nelson both picked up technical fouls for
arguing fouls called against the Mavs in the third quarter.
Minnesota's Gary Trent was whistled for a flagrant foul of Eduardo
Najera in the fourth. ... Dallas C Shawn Bradley, recovering from a
sprained ankle, missed his third straight game. ... Dallas is 12-0
when scoring more than 100 points.