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T-Wolves in playoffs sixth straight season

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are back in the
playoffs. But they're not patting themselves on the back yet.

"There'll be no celebration around here," Chauncey Billups
said after notching his first career triple-double. "Everybody
expected to make the playoffs, our goal right now is getting back
to the level we were at earlier in the season."

Billups had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to lead
Minnesota to a 92-81 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, securing
Minnesota's sixth straight playoff berth.

With Kevin Garnett going 6-for-22 from the field, Billups picked
up the slack in an otherwise lackluster effort by Minnesota, which
built several double-digit leads only to have one of the NBA's
worst teams pull back into the game.

"A raggedy win, an ugly win, but it's a win," Garnett said.

The Wolves, who were eliminated in the first round of the
playoffs for a fifth straight season last year, appeared to be
pulling away heading into the fourth quarter. Garnett hit a
turnaround jumper in the lane to give the Wolves a 62-48 lead at
the 6:38 mark of the third.

But Memphis wouldn't go away.

"We had a chance, we were right there," Memphis coach Sidney
Lowe said.

The Grizzlies pulled back to within single digits during a 17-11
run to make it 73-65 early in the fourth quarter. Memphis, taking
advantage of Minnesota shots that barely found the rim, pulled to
78-74 on Pau Gasol's two free throws with 4:02 left.

But Minnesota got a 3-pointer and a fast-break basket from Wally
Szczerbiak and a jumper from Billups to pad the lead. Garnett hit
an 18-footer after a basket by Jason Williams at the other end to
put the Wolves up 88-78 with 50 seconds left.

"I think you're a little more at ease knowing that you're in
(the playoffs)," Garnett said. "But then it's time to prepare
yourself. You've got to finish games out. You've got to prepare
yourself for a playoff type atmosphere."

Gasol led Memphis with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Williams had
17 points and reserve Stromile Swift added 16 for the Grizzlies.

"When you're fighting back like that and you miss open shots,
it takes something out of you," Lowe said.

Despite a poor shooting night, Garnett managed 18 points and
grabbed 17 rebounds.

Garnett went 1-for-10 in the first half, his only field goal
coming on a stuff underneath the basket. Minnesota also gave up 12
points on 12 turnovers, nine in the first half.

The Grizzlies got their hands on several errant Wolves' passes
that were either too hard or too soft.

Minnesota appeared to be on its way to an early route, opening
up a 32-22 lead on Anthony Peeler's 3-pointer with 7:09 left in the
first half. But Memphis fought back, thanks in part to Minnesota's
sloppy ballhandling, with a 16-6 run. Williams' driving layup made
it 38-38 with 2:48 left.

The Timberwolves led 45-40 at the half.

Game notes
Memphis forward Lorenzen Wright didn't make the trip to
Minnesota. Wright had missed Tuesday night's game at Sacramento
with back spasms. ... The Grizzlies have been to Target Center 14
times, winning only once on Feb. 18, 2001. The Wolves lead the
series 24-4. ... Minnesota shot 9-for-25 in the fourth quarter. The
Wolves shot just 39.1 percent in the fourth quarter in March, while
allowing the opposition to hit a combined 47.9 percent.

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