2:30 PM ET, February 2, 2003
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- If the Minnesota Timberwolves seem accustomed to playing short-handed, it's because they are.
Kevin Garnett had 30 points and 17 rebounds as the Timberwolves won their eighth straight home game, 99-91 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Marc Jackson had 14 points and Gary Trent made all six shots he took for 12 points to offset the absence of Joe Smith, who sprained his ankle Friday and will miss at least three weeks. The Wolves dressed only 10 players, with Rod Strickland on the bench due to a strained groin.
Minnesota's reserves outscored Philadelphia's 35-22.
"They all came with good defensive energy,'' Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said.
Smith is the fourth Minnesota player to miss significant time because of injury this year, besides guards Terrell Brandon and Felipe Lopez -- who are likely out for the season. The constantly shuffling lineups have made it tough for the backups to find a rhythm.
"It's really difficult,'' Jackson said. "We just work hard and try to stick to the game.''
Allen Iverson had 21 points on 7-for-23 shooting for the 76ers, who shot 39 percent from the field and had a four-game road winning streak snapped.
Derrick Coleman, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds, scored four straight points to pull Philadelphia to 95-91 with 1:24 left, but Garnett made a long jumper on the other end to give Minnesota some breathing room.
"We couldn't get stops when we needed them down the stretch,'' Iverson said. "K.G. got open, and he knocked down all the open shots they needed.''
Iverson -- unable to practice Saturday because of an inflamed right knee -- scored the Sixers' first seven points, but he started leaving shots a hair short after that and couldn't find many openings to drive at in the lane.
Even without Smith, one of their best interior defenders, the Timberwolves were tough on defense underneath and outscored the 76ers 60-42 in the paint.
"They made good decisions,'' Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "They outrebounded us. They had more assists. They shot 55 percent. That usually leads to good outcomes.''
Iverson, whose season high of 41 points came in a 99-94 win over Minnesota in December, was 5-for-14 in the first half and missed his first five attempts of the second half.
"We tried to push him toward help and keep hands in his face,'' Garnett said.
Iverson said his knee was sore, but he didn't want that to excuse his performance.
"My outside shot wasn't falling,'' Iverson said. "Then when I got inside for layups, I couldn't get those to go down, either.''
Keith Van Horn, who had 33 points for the Sixers on Friday in a win over Miami, was 2-for-8 from the floor in the first half and finished with 13 points.
Fouls bogged down the first half -- seven were called in the first two minutes of the second period and nobody made a field goal during that span -- until the Wolves closed it with a 10-0 run.
Anthony Peeler, who replaced Smith in the starting lineup, found Rasho Nesterovic for an alley-oop dunk to give Minnesota a 48-44 lead just before halftime. Playing Wally Szczerbiak at small forward and Garnett at power forward helped the Wolves open up their offense.
"We gave them too many open looks,'' Van Horn said.
Igor Rakocevic, pressed into more playing time with Strickland out another two-to-three weeks, had one of his best games. He drained a long 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer to give the Wolves a 77-66 lead.
The rookie from Yugoslavia has impressed his teammates with his hustle and quickness just as much as his jittery demeanor has provided a little comic relief. Trying to enter the game in the second quarter, Rakocevic couldn't get his warmup pants off.
"It's always something with him,'' Saunders said. "But he played well.''
The Sixers dressed only 10 players themselves. F Kenny Thomas sat out with a deep thigh bruise, and G Greg Buckner was out with a strained left groin and hip flexor. C Todd MacCulloch, who had family from Canada at the game, had the flu and played only four minutes. ... It was Philadelphia's first visit to Target Center in 15 months -- since Minnesota's 2001-02 home opener. ... The last time the Sixers swept the season series from the Wolves was in 1992-93. ... The crowd of 18,089 was Minnesota's second-biggest of the season.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||37-95 (.389)||43-78 (.551)|
|3PM-3PA||5-17 (.294)||2-5 (.400)|
|FTM-FTA||12-13 (.923)||11-20 (.550)|
|Fast Break Points||7||7|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||19 (1/0)|