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Wolves hold Kings to 34 points in first half

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves were paying
attention when Sacramento dismantled New Jersey.

A night before playing the second-best team in the Western
Conference, the Wolves watched the Kings beat the East's top team
by 26 points.

"We saw what they did to Jersey last night and we didn't want
to end up on the other end of that type of game,'' Joe Smith said.

Smith had a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Kevin
Garnett added 24 points and 15 boards as the Timberwolves held off
the Kings 115-109 in overtime Friday night.

The Wolves overcame a torrid second half by the Kings, who
scored a season-low 34 points in the first half but responded with
69 in the second -- tying their best scoring half this year. The
Kings scored 69 in the first half Thursday against New Jersey.

Chris Webber led the Kings with 30 points, and Peja Stojakovic
scored a season-high 27 for Sacramento, which had won four straight
games. But the Wolves shut down Mike Bibby, who scored only seven
points on 2-for-12 shooting a night after scoring 23 against the
Nets.

"I put a lot of this loss on me,'' said Bibby, who did manage
16 assists. "I let them control what I did.''

Webber had a chance to win the game for the Kings at the end of
regulation after hitting a driving layup and drawing a foul on
Smith with 1.3 seconds left.

But Webber, 4-for-11 from the free throw line, missed the
potential game-winning foul shot, and the Wolves had one more
chance.

Minnesota got the ball to Garnett on the last play of
regulation, but he was tied up and never got the shot off.

"We talked about how important it was to be aggressive,''
Garnett said. "The refs were letting us play. We said, 'Everybody
tap the basket. Everybody be confident.' All the guys were
confident.''

Minnesota opened the overtime period with a 7-0 run, and looked
to be in control with a 110-103 lead with 2:04 to play. But the
Kings responded with a 6-2 spurt fueled by a 3-pointer from Mike
Bibby and a dunk off a steal by Doug Christie.

The Kings caught a break when the Wolves' bench was hit with a
technical foul for arguing a no-call before Christie's dunk.
Stojakovic hit the free throw to bring Sacramento to 112-109 with
53 seconds left.

Rod Strickland missed the Wolves' next shot, but Webber bobbled
the rebound out of bounds, and Rasho Nesterovic tipped in a miss to
give Minnesota a 114-109 lead with 17.6 seconds left.

"We kept it close enough and then had a good third quarter,''
Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "Give Minnesota credit. They made
the plays in the overtime to win.''

Wally Szczerbiak, playing in his first game since going on the
injured list Nov. 19 with an injured toe, hit another foul shot.
Then the Kings turned the ball over on their next possession to
seal it.

"It just seemed like we won the game two or three times,''
Szczerbiak said. "We missed some technical foul (shots), we missed
some layups. Key plays like that are going to come back and haunt
you sometimes. Luckily it didn't haunt us tonight.''

Szczerbiak's return to the lineup was slow at first. He entered
the game with 2:17 left in the first quarter to a loud ovation but
picked up two quick fouls. The Wolves All-Star shooting guard
played only six minutes in the first half. He scored his first
points in the third quarter on a 17-footer, drawing a roar from the
crowd.

Szczerbiak, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in 16
minutes, also hit a 3-pointer with 7:16 to go in the fourth quarter
to give the Wolves an 88-86 lead. But Damon Jones responded with a
3 of his own to regain the lead for the Kings.

After trailing for the entire first half, Sacramento opened the
second with a fast 14-5 run on a series of layups and dunks to pull
back into the game. Stojakovic hit consecutive 3-pointers to give
Sacramento its first lead at 62-61 with 4:40 to go in the third
quarter.

Stojakovic hit a driving layup to give the Kings a 67-65 lead at
the 2:37 mark and the teams traded shots to end the quarter.
Anthony Peeler nailed a corner jumpshot as time expired to give
Minnesota a 77-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Game notes
Garnett scored only six points in the first half. ...
Minnesota didn't attempt a free-throw in the first half. ...
Sacramento's two worst halves of the season came against Minnesota.
They scored 36 points Nov. 27 in the second half at Target Center.
... The Wolves have won 10 out of their last 11 games against
Sacramento at Target Center.

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