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Knicks win third straight

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A night after being held scoreless, Latrell
Sprewell said he was more concerned about playing better than
having a big game against his former team.

He did neither.

Sprewell scored only five points on 2-for-11 shooting for
Minnesota and the New York Knicks got a season-high 18 points and
17 rebounds from Dikembe Mutombo to hold off the Timberwolves 97-92
on Wednesday night.

It was Sprewell's first game against the Knicks since being
dealt to Minnesota in a four-team trade this summer.

"It was nice to see those guys," Sprewell said. "I don't have
any animosity toward them."

He hugged his former teammates before tipoff, but was hardly
heard from again. He continued his bad shooting after going 0-for-8
against Ron Artest and Indiana on Tuesday night.

"It's frustrating when you lose and don't play well," Sprewell
said. "Hopefully, next game, I'll have the opportunity to turn
this around."

New York's Allan Houston scored 13 of his 17 points in the
fourth quarter. In his first game back after missing two games with
a sore lower back, Houston scored six of New York's final nine
points to help the Knicks win their third straight and snap a
four-game losing streak to the Wolves.

"I just wanted to come in and fit in," Houston said. "It took
me a while to get into an offensive rhythm. ... Fortunately, I hit
a couple late."

Houston also spent much of the night guarding Sprewell.

"It's definitely competitive," Houston said. "You're playing
against a guy you played against every day in practice and you've
won big games and had a lot of great moments with and now he's on
another team."

Reserve Frank Williams had a career-high 17 points for the
Knicks.

With New York up 88-87 with 2:54 left to play, Houston extended
the advantage with a 12-footer and a pair of free throws. After a
20-footer by Kevin Garnett, Kurt Thomas added a jumper before Sam
Cassell gave the Wolves some hope with a 3-pointer to make it 94-92
with 37.2 seconds left.

But Houston deflated Minnesota with a long jumper and Fred
Hoiberg missed a 3-pointer on Minnesota's next possession. Charlie
Ward added a free throw for New York and the Wolves lost their
second straight game.

"(Houston) came through right on time," Knicks coach Don
Chaney said. "He's shown over the years that when the pressure's
on and a shot is needed, he comes through."

Garnett led Minnesota with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Sam
Cassell added 23 points and 10 assists, Gary Trent had 15 points
and Hoiberg 13.

But the Wolves had no answer for New York's inside game.

Mutombo entered the game averaging 6.3 points and six rebounds;
he nearly had a double-double by halftime, scoring 17 points and
grabbing nine rebounds.

The Wolves recovered from a slow start and took the lead after
trailing for much of the first three quarters. Minnesota ripped off
a 10-0 run fueled by six points from Cassell to give the Wolves a
67-62 lead with 2:02 to go in the third.

The Wolves led by as many as nine points in the final quarter
before New York reeled off nine straight points to make it 84-all
with 4:32 to go.

"Down the stretch, you've got to be able to execute and get
guys open, and we didn't do that," Wolves coach Flip Saunders
said.

Sprewell's first points came on a 3-pointer early in the third
quarter, bringing a roar from the crowd. His only other basket came
on a 14-footer to cut the lead to 51-47.

The two teams met in the preseason, but Sprewell didn't play
because of a sore left Achilles' tendon.

Game notes
Wolves C Mark Madsen sat out with back spasms, joining
fellow center Michael Olowokandi (knee) on the bench. Ervin Johnson
started in Madsen's place. ... The Timberwolves play seven of their
next eight games on the road.

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