The streaky Minnesota point guard scored 31 points as the
Timberwolves beat Seattle 91-86 Wednesday night to snap their
three-game losing streak. Coming off two embarrassing losses to
Miami and Dallas, the Wolves also gained ground on Portland for the
fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"Had we lost tonight, it would've really put a damper on our
spirits," said guard Kendall Gill, who hit a big shot during the
closing seconds to help ice the win.
Garnett scored 20 points, a modest performance by the MVP
candidate's standards. But Szczerbiak shot a miserable 3-for-12 and
had six points.
Seattle had its own problems. Even though they outrebounded the
Wolves 43-30 and attempted 13 more free throws, the Sonics, who saw
their three-game winning streak end, couldn't piece together a
solid run after the first quarter.
The Wolves played tight defense on Ray Allen, holding the
SuperSonics' star guard to a quiet 19 points. Seattle fell even
further out of the playoff picture; the Sonics came into the game
2½ games behind Phoenix for the final spot.
"We still are right there," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said.
"We lost this one, but we have to just continue to try and win.
We've got to get ready for the Clippers Friday night, and take care
Seattle finished a paltry 31-for-75 from the floor.
"We have nights when guys are shooting the ball well, and
nights when we're struggling from the perimeter, even when we get
open looks. But I thought they fought tonight and they scrapped
tonight and had a chance to win this game," the coach said.
The 6-foot-1 Hudson was a one-man show for the Timberwolves,
hitting from the perimeter, driving the lane, rebounding and
knocking the ball out of the hands of Seattle's big men. Hudson has
been known to take risky shots this season, but his teammates have
learned to stay calm when he does.
"He seems to make them," Gill said smiling.
"Sometimes I'm going to take bad shots, but I know when to
control myself," Hudson said.
But Hudson, along with the rest of the Wolves, were quiet as the
fourth quarter wound down and Seattle pulled to 88-84 on a driving
layup by Predrag Drobnjak with 2:07 to play. Rashard Lewis got a
quick layup after Wally Szczerbiak missed a pair of 3s, but Gill
hit a 19-footer with 17 seconds left to make it 90-86.
"That's why we're a team. He's stepped up and made big shots
all year," a relieved Szczerbiak said.
Seattle turned over the ball on the ensuing possession and sent
Gill to the free-throw line, where he went 1-for-2.
Brent Barry then missed a desperation 3-pointer to seal the win.
Drobnjak finished with 16 points and Lewis added 15.
"We didn't get the stops, we didn't get the rebounds, we turned
the ball over," Allen said. "We didn't get what we needed to get
and the game got out of control."
Allen spent much of the night guarded by Anthony Peeler, but
drew constant double teams.
The Sonics opened hitting four of the first five shots and
jumped out to a 13-4 lead. Minnesota, powered by Hudson's 16
first-quarter points, quickly shot themselves back into the game.
The Timberwolves led by as many as nine in the first half, but
were outworked on the boards. Garnett had seven of Minnesota's 15
first-half rebounds. And Seattle went to the line 17 times,
converting on 12, while the Wolves went only 2-for-3.
Seattle cut the lead to 49-47 at halftime on Barry's
Wolves coach Flip Saunders said point guard Rod Strickland
(groin) is practicing with the team, but wouldn't say when he
expects him to return to the lineup. ... Former Twins outfielder
Kirby Puckett was in attendance, just hours after the jury in his
sexual assault trial finished deliberating for the day. The jury
was expected to reconvene Thursday morning. ... Instant replay was
used to verify Barry's buzzer-beating shot.
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