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T-Wolves finish franchise's best month in style

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves ended the best month in franchise history with their most impressive offensive performance of the season.

Wally Szczerbiak scored 25 points and Kevin Garnett added 20
points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Timberwolves won their
sixth straight with a 118-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers
on Friday night.

Minnesota shot a season-high 57 percent and tied a franchise low
with four turnovers as it extended its home winning streak to 16
games and finished February an NBA-best 12-1.

Troy Hudson added 18 points and a career-high 15 assists for the
Wolves. All five Minnesota starters finished in double figures for
the second consecutive game.

"We really executed well,'' Szczerbiak said. "And we made open shots. Tonight, we made each other better out there.''

Dajuan Wagner and Darius Miles scored 16 points each to lead the
Cavaliers, who fell to 3-27 on the road. Cleveland, which beat New
Jersey on Tuesday, has not won consecutive games this season.

Szczerbiak, who shot just 4-of-16 against Utah on Wednesday, hit
six of his first seven and scored 17 points in the first half. The
Wolves grabbed the lead for good at 14-13 and built it steadily
throughout.

Garnett, who finished with a league-high 49th double-double, continues to be the focus of Minnesota's offense. But it's the development of Hudson as a multi-dimensional point guard who has taken Minnesota to another level in the past month.

Hudson, known more as a scorer in his five previous seasons, has
averaged nearly nine assists a game in February, playing the
majority of the minutes with backup Rod Strickland out with a groin
injury. He has 83 assists and only 19 turnovers in the Wolves' last
nine games.

"He's our leader out there now. It's not the coach,'' Szczerbiak said, pointing out that Hudson now has the confidence to wave off plays from the bench.

"I'm improving as a playmaker,'' Hudson said. "I try to do that with each game and get people more involved. Winning improves my game.''

The Wolves, who have had a penchant for letting teams back in
games in the fourth quarter, didn't let Cleveland closer than 15 in the second half.

"In the fourth quarter, we just tried to get the game over at
that point,'' Garnett said. "It isn't every game you can just sit
back and chill.''

The Wolves shot 64 percent in the first half and closed it with
an 18-6 run to lead 67-50 at the break. It was their
highest-scoring first half this season.

"You've got to stop people to win games,'' Cleveland's Ricky
Davis said.

Minnesota's shooting was so good that Anthony Peeler made a
third-quarter jumper that hit the rim, bounced about four feet in
the air and came down through the net. Peeler looked at the Wolves'
bench and shrugged.<

Game notes
Cleveland placed guard Bimbo Coles on waivers before the
game. Coles, a 13-year veteran, played 21 games and averaged 4.9
points and 2.7 assists for the Cavaliers. Cleveland also waived
forward Tyrone Hill on Thursday. ... The Timberwolves announced
ticket prices for the 2003-04 season. Their average ticket price
will rise to $46.25 from $44.29. But the five lowest pricing
levels, which range from $60 to $10 per game and cover nearly
14,000 seats, remain unchanged. ... The Wolves have won eight in a
row against Eastern Conference opponents after starting the season
6-10 against them. ... Minnesota would have set a franchise low for
turnovers were it not for an errant lob pass thrown by Gary Trent
with 1 second left in the game. Trent tried to throw an alley-oop
to Marc Jackson but the pass was underthrown and stolen by
Cleveland.

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