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Shareef steal helps seal it

2/4/2004

ATLANTA (AP) -- The enigmatic Atlanta Hawks have another chance
to dismiss a distinction that even the worst team in NBA history
avoided.

Through 50 games, they're still looking for their first winning
streak.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 32 points, 14 rebounds and a key steal
late in the game to help Atlanta rally past the Minnesota
Timberwolves 97-89 Wednesday night.

"I've been saying all year we're going to come out after a win
and play hard the next night," Stephen Jackson said. "I ain't
saying that now. I just hope we do."

The Hawks are 0-15 following a victory this season, including a
six-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. The
1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-73, won back-to-back
games at least twice.

Atlanta travels to Boston on Friday night.

"We're a little immature and we play to the level of our
competition sometimes," Abdur-Rahim said. "We need to get to the
point where we always play like us, no matter who we're playing."

Jason Terry added 20 points, Jackson scored 17 and rookie Boris
Diaw had the best game of his brief career. He tied season highs
with 10 rebounds and eight assists, and was only one point off his
best effort with seven.

Sam Cassell finished with 20 points and Kevin Garnett had 17 for
the Timberwolves, who lost for only second time in 10 games.
Garnett struggled throughout and finished 7-of-24 from the field,
including 1-of-8 in the fourth quarter.

With Minnesota trailing by three with 1:30 left, Abdur-Rahim
swiped the ball from Garnett, which led to two clinching free
throws by Diaw.

"I didn't hit any ... shots," Garnett said in an
expletive-laden session with reporters. "The shots I took, I
usually hit them, but I just didn't."

The Hawks trailed after the first, second and third quarters.
That normally means a loss, since they were 2-28 when losing at the
start of the fourth quarter.

But this time was different.

"In the fourth quarter, we had the opportunity to win the game,
and we did it," Abdur-Rahim said.

Cassell made a 3-pointer with 7:21 left to give Minnesota an
83-76 lead. The comeback started on an off-balance 3-pointer by
Terry, who released the ball just before the shot clock expired to
cut the margin to four.

Abdur-Rahim made four free throws and Terry nailed a jumper,
offsetting a thunderous dunk by Garnett, and the Hawks had tied it
at 85.

A jumper by Latrell Sprewell gave the Timberwolves their last
lead before Stephen Jackson tied it again with a layup on a nifty
pass from Diaw.

A defensive 3-seconds call on Garnett gave the Hawks a free
throw, and Abdur-Rahim made it for an 88-87 lead. Atlanta pulled
away from there, closing the game with a 21-6 run.

"To win a game like that, you have to do a lot of things
right," Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said. "We maintained our
composure and made defensive plays and got rebounds, things that
have hurt us down the stretch.

"I think that gave us a little bit of confidence to make some
shots. When you make shots, that helps."

That the Hawks stayed as close as they did was amazing after
their start. In the first four minutes, they had six turnovers --
three each by Terry and Theo Ratliff -- that Minnesota turned into
its first seven points.

The Timberwolves had their own problems, however. They made only
one of their first six shots, and Garnett was particularly off. He
started 2-of-8 to start the game and never recovered.

"We didn't do anything to deserve to win," Cassell said. "We
have some things we have to work on. We did so many things not to
win the game."

Game notes
Ratliff was called twice for goaltending. ... The
Timberwolves play four of their next five games at home. ...
Minnesota was called for defensive 3-seconds twice.