Sam Cassell had 30 points and 13 assists to lead Minnesota to a
108-97 victory over the Raptors on Wednesday night, the
Timberwolves' seventh win in their last eight games.
Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Latrell
Sprewell added 24 points for Minnesota, 19-4 in its last 23 games.
"Sam, Spree and K.G., at some point during the game, they all
took over," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "When your main
three get 82 of your 108 it puts a lot of pressure on the other
Cassell, who hopes to be selected to the All-Star game for the
first time in his career, scored 14 points in the final 6:10. He
sparked a 12-2 run with a 3-pointer that put Minnesota ahead for
good with 5:27 left, and is shooting 64 percent from the floor in
the fourth quarters of his last 27 games.
"In my eyes I've been an All-Star for the last four years of my
career," Cassell said. "But the West is the best conference and
I'm doing this in the West."
Minnesota outrebounded the Raptors 43-25, and shot 56 percent, a
season high for a Toronto opponent.
"Their big three guys are all playing great basketball,"
Toronto coach Kevin O'Neill said. "When you let them shoot 56
percent in your building, you're not going to win too many games."
Palacio's jumper tied it at 84 with six minutes left, but
Cassell followed with his 3-pointer.
Cassell's jumper gave Minnesota a 10-point lead with just over
two minutes left, and his 3-point play made it 99-88 with 1:30
remaining. Cassell also made with two free throws, giving Minnesota
a 101-91 lead with just under a minute left.
Sprewell, Garnett and Cassell scored 26 of Minnesota's 28
Sprewell had 13 points and Garnett had eight in the period to
help Minnesota pull away to a 14-point lead.
"When it comes down to us needing a basket, the three of us put
our heads together and say, 'Let's do it," Garnett said.
The Raptors went on a 22-8 run to tie it at 80, but Garnett
followed with two free throws and Cassell scored the first two of
his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"There's a reason why Sam should be an All-Star," Saunders
Raptors forward Michael Curry, sidelined indefinitely by a
right elbow injury, will have surgery next week. The Raptors
activated Palacio, sidelined since Jan. 4 by a broken bone in his
left wrist. Forward Robert Archibald also missed game Wednesday
with a sprained left ankle and is listed as day-to-day. ... After
Toronto's Lonny Baxter failed to execute a play in the first half,
O'Neill berated Baxter by yelling, "We just had a huddle!" ... A
fan won a car by making a 3-pointer during a timeout. ... Garnett
leads the NBA with 34 double-doubles.