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Szczerbiak, Peeler put away Clips in fourth quarter

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett had another double-double for Minnesota, but it was his Timberwolves teammates who made the key shots down the stretch.

Wally Szczerbiak scored all 18 of his points in the second half, and Anthony Peeler had all 10 of his in the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 88-85 on Friday night.

Minnesota, which trailed 63-47 with 4:17 left in the third quarter, won its season-high fourth straight despite shooting only 37 percent from the field.

"A.P. and I loosened up our neckties in the second half,'' Szczerbiak said.

Garnett had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his league-leading 34th double-double. He also finished one assist short of a triple-double.

"I know how to take over a game without scoring,'' Garnett said. "I told Wally and A.P. I'd look for them in the second half, and they knocked down shots.''

Elton Brand had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who were without starters Andre Miller and Michael Olowokandi. Miller was in Los Angeles to attend his stepfather's funeral, while Olowokandi was out with a thigh bruise.

The Clippers committed 25 turnovers without Miller's steady
leadership at point guard. Marko Jaric filled in gamely, scoring 19
off the bench.

"Obviously, we missed the heck out of Andre, especially after we had the lead,'' Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "Most of the turnovers were unforced turnovers, just mental breakdowns and that's not good.''

And the Clippers led for most of the second quarter and all of
the third, until Peeler scored eight consecutive points during a
two-minute stretch of the fourth quarter to give the Wolves an
81-78 lead, their first lead since early in the game. Peeler had
been 0-for-4 entering the quarter.

"We kept him in the game because he was active defensively,''
Wolves coach Flip Saunders said, referring to Peeler's six steals.

Los Angeles made it 86-85 on Jaric's layup with 12.4 seconds
left, but Szczerbiak hit two free throws at the other end to make
it a three-point game. Eric Piatkowski missed a 3-pointer at the
buzzer.

"We let this one slip, but they came and got it,'' Brand said. "They played their offensive sets well all the way to the end, and they didn't stop fighting. But we should have had this one.''

Nevertheless, the Clippers took control in the second quarter, aided by Minnesota's poor shooting. The Wolves made just 3-of-20 field goals in the quarter, allowing the Clippers to erase an early nine-point deficit.

Los Angeles led 47-39 at halftime and extended the lead in the
third quarter as the crowd booed the Wolves' listless play.

Minnesota rallied to 68-59 at the end of the quarter, as
Szczerbiak finally found his shooting stroke. He scored nine points
in the third quarter after being shut out in the first half.

Troy Hudson's 3-pointer with 8:17 remaining brought the Wolves
to 70-69, but the Clippers scored eight of the next 10 points to
lead 78-71 with 5:10 left.

But Szczerbiak hit a jumper, then Peeler hit consecutive
3-pointers to give the Wolves a 79-78 lead.

The Clippers used a 20-2 run over the first half of the second
quarter to erase an early 25-16 deficit.

The Wolves' three leading scorers, Garnett, Szczerbiak and
Hudson, combined for only four points in the first half.

Game notes
Miller will rejoin the team Sunday in Indianapolis, while Olowokandi is questionable for the Clippers' game Sunday with the Pacers. He suffered the injury Monday against the Lakers. Keyon Dooling and Sean Rooks started in place of Miller and Olowokandi.
... Piatkowski returned after missing the past 19 games with an
abdominal strain, scoring only two points. The Clippers placed
rookie forward Chris Wilcox on the injured list to make room for
Piatkowski and dressed only 10 players. ... Rasho Nesterovic's
tip-in with 5 seconds left in the second quarter kept the Wolves
from setting two franchise lows for shooting in a quarter. The
Wolves' three field goals bettered their previous franchise low of
two, and the .150 shooting beat the old mark of .120.

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