<
>

T-Wolves grab No. 4 seed with win over Grizzlies

4/17/2003

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Kevin Garnett made sure the Minnesota
Timberwolves earned the best playoff position in franchise history.

Garnett had 19 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists as
Minnesota clinched home-court advantage for the opening round of
the playoffs for the first time ever with a 95-87 win over the
Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

"Our goal was to get the home-court advantage all year and we
accomplished that,'' Minnesota's Wally Szczerbiak said.

The Timberwolves ended the season with a 51-31 record and the
No. 4 spot in the Western Conference.

Getting home court, for at least one round, gives the
Timberwolves a fighting chance in the packed West. Minnesota has
never made it to the second round of the playoffs, getting
eliminated six straight times.

Garnett, who has been criticized for not leading his team to a
series victory, capped a sensational regular season with his
league-leading 63rd double-double.

Garnett said leadership is something that builds throughout the
season.

"I made sure everybody was ready and I made sure every game
that we came out and competed,'' he said. "That's all I can do.
We're grown men here, so I just try to lead and sort of direct and
hope that they follow.''

Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said playing at home is a definite
benefit.

"We have the second-best home record. We are 33-8,'' Saunders
said. "We've won 23 of our last 26 at home and we have a streak of
17 in there. To us, we have a comfort level there.''

The Timberwolves also got 17 points from Szczerbiak, 14 from
Anthony Peeler and 12 from Marc Jackson.

Memphis was led by Stromile Swift and Pau Gasol with 18 points
each. Gasol also had 14 rebounds. Jason Williams had 11 points and
12 assists for Memphis, while Mike Batiste also had 11 points.

The Grizzlies finished 28-54, setting a franchise record for
victories but still finishing 32 games behind San Antonio in the
Midwest Division.

Memphis also was better at home, going 20-21, and Grizzlies
leading scorer Pau Gasol said he felt good about the season
overall.

"We worked very hard and did our best. We are a very young team
... We have to be proud of ourselves,'' Gasol said.

The shot clock on the Grizzlies' end of the court went out early
in the final period, and Memphis had to do with an auxiliary set on
the floor at its right corner. The play-by-play announcer gave the
count aloud on the final 10 seconds of a Memphis possession.

Memphis coach Hubie Brown said the Grizzlies hurt themselves
badly at the foul line, hitting 12 of 23.

"We were playing a team that was fighting to get home-court
advantage for the playoffs ... and if we had not missed 11 foul
shots we would have won the game,'' Brown said.

The Grizzlies, having trailed since the opening basket, took
their first lead, 53-51, at 9:12 of the third period on a layup by
Shane Battier. But Minnesota came back to end the quarter leading
74-65 after scoring the final six points of the period.

Game notes
It was the first time in team history the Grizzlies wrapped
up a season at home. ... The Timberwolves are 4-0 against the
Grizzlies this year and have won all seven meetings since the
Grizzlies moved to Memphis last season. ... Minnesota leads the
series 28-4. ... Garnett got his 100th dunk of the season at 7:27
of the first period. ... Timberwolves F Joe Smith was sidelined
with a hyperextended knee hurt in practice Monday.