<
>

Minnesota improves to 14-6 on road

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves played so well
down the stretch that they made up for the rest of the game.

Sam Cassell scored 23 of his 33 points in the second half,
including eight straight late in the fourth quarter, and Minnesota
beat the San Antonio Spurs 100-93 Wednesday night.

Cassell's 16-foot jump shot with 5:12 remaining gave the
Timberwolves the lead for good at 84-83, and Minnesota held the
Spurs to only seven points in the final 4:24.

"For 43 minutes the Spurs controlled the game," Cassell said.
"In the huddle we just kept saying, `Hang in there and good things
will happen.' We are one of the best teams in the league when we
execute the game plan."

It was Minnesota's fifth straight victory, giving the
Timberwolves sole possession of first place in the Midwest Division
with a one-game lead over San Antonio, which dropped its second
straight.

"We're just out there playing basketball," Cassell said.
"We're not on any particular roll. We know what we're doing in the
games because we do it in practice. The concentration is there. We
don't have very long practices and there isn't much fooling
around."

Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his NBA-leading
32nd double-double of the season. Latrell Sprewell added 23 points
for the Timberwolves, including a dunk on a breakaway steal with
2:20 to go -- putting an exclamation point on Minnesota's second
straight victory at the SBC Center.

"It's too early for statement games," Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said. "We still have to face them a few more times. This
was just a good game between two teams playing very well right now.
The Midwest Division is like that -- so tough."

Tim Duncan had 36 points and 20 rebounds for the Spurs but again
struggled from the foul line, shooting just 8-of-15.

"We hustled and did a good job on the boards," Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "But when you have the combination of not
stopping Sam and (missed) free throws, that put an end to us."

Manu Ginobili, activated from the injured list after missing
five games with a back injury, scored 14 points for the Spurs. He
played 21 minutes, but got his first rest less then five minutes
into the game.

"I was out of air," Ginobili said. "So they kept putting me
in and out."

Tony Parker added 12 points, including consecutive 3-pointers
midway through the third quarter to give San Antonio its last lead
at 83-79.

Game notes
San Antonio placed guard Jason Hart on the injured list
with left patella tendinitis, making room for Ginobili. ...
Minnesota guard Troy Hudson missed his 10th straight game after
aggravating his sprained right ankle on Dec. 23. ... San Antonio's
Rasho Nesterovic managed just three points against his former team.