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Garnett's all-around game key for ailing Timberwolves

12/13/2002

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With a handful of new players and some
injured ones, too, Kevin Garnett has found himself carrying the
Minnesota Timberwolves more than ever this season.

He's doing a pretty good job.

Garnett had 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, and
Minnesota continued its mastery of Atlanta by beating the Hawks
113-95 Thursday night.

''He is the ultimate stat sheet stuffer,'' coach Flip Saunders
said. ''That just shows you his all-around game.''

Rasho Nesterovic had 18 points and six rebounds, Troy Hudson
added 18 points and Joe Smith 15 points and six rebounds for the
Timberwolves, who've beaten the Hawks seven consecutive times.

''It's just more proof he's one of the best in the league,''
Nesterovic said. ''It's just amazing what he can do.''

Glenn Robinson scored 21 points and Shareef Abdur-Rahim 16 for
the Hawks -- who lost their sixth consecutive road game and are 2-10
away from home this season.

''Another case where we were going along pretty good for awhile
and then started to give up too many rebounds,'' said coach Lon
Kruger, whose team gave up 30 second-chance points to Minnesota and
scored just 18.

''They're very good and long in the middle,'' Kruger said, ''so
they can do that to you.''

The Hawks had a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter,
but soft defense prevented them from keeping it. They've allowed
100 or more points in eight of 12 games on the road. Minnesota
missed its season high in scoring by one.

''We need to get this corrected now, not 40 or 50 games into the
season,'' Robinson said. ''They have some good scorers over there.
You've got to get on them, and we didn't.''

The Timberwolves, who just finished a six-game road trip through
the Western Conference, played in Target Center for the first time
since Nov. 27. Minnesota hasn't won more than two consecutive games all
year.

The blowout gave Garnett and Kendall Gill, who've been logging
the most minutes lately, a rare chance to get a little rest.

''It felt good,'' Garnett said with a grin. ''That's always a
great feeling.''

The Hawks, who won just 86 games over the last three seasons,
missed a chance to climb back to .500 for the first time since they
were 8-8 Nov. 29.

Backup guard Emanual Davis helped keep the Hawks in it in early,
scoring nine of his season-high 14 points in second quarter. He was
6-for-8 from the floor.

Robinson hit his third 3-pointer of the first half to give the
Hawks a 56-53 lead, but the Wolves went to the locker room with a
10-0 run over the final 1½ minutes.

Gill, who missed eight of his first 10 shots, gave the Wolves
their biggest lead of the half with a jumper just inside the
3-point line at the buzzer to make it 63-56.

Arms raised, Gill whirled and grinned at the crowd as Garnett
jostled him with a celebratory shove in the back.

Garnett was able to help four others reach double digits in
scoring.

Just another sign of the load he's been bearing for his team,
which has missed All-Star shooting guard Wally Szczerbiak for all
but four games with an injured toe.

''I'm definitely trying to step up and fill some of these
holes,'' Garnett said. ''I've made it easy for a lot of guys. I
know that. Sometimes I get frustrated when I'm not getting easy
looks, but I know I'm helping others get easy looks.

''I think we've been throwing a little more on my back.''

Game notes
Szczerbiak met with a foot specialist in the Twin Cities on
Monday. ... The Hawks are 1-5 on the second night of back-to-back
games this season. They lost to Detroit 91-80 Wednesday. ...
Atlanta last beat Minnesota on Dec. 14, 1999. ... Garnett's string
of 11 consecutive double-doubles ended. ... Hawks starting forward Ira
Newble had the flu and wasn't with the team.