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Hudson, in for Cassell, scores season-high 29

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Troy Hudson filled the shoes of Sam Cassell
just fine, helping end the New Jersey Nets' winning streak at 14
games.

Hudson, making his first start of the season in place of the
injured Cassell, scored a season-high 29 points as Minnesota beat
New Jersey 81-68 on Wednesday night to hand Nets coach Lawrence
Frank his first loss.

"Losing is a part of the game," Frank said. "Nobody likes it.
Nobody accepts it. The only thing you can do is learn from it."

The Nets' winning streak was the longest in the NBA this season.

Hudson, the streaky shooter who has been hampered all season by
a sprained ankle, erased any hope for Frank's 14th consecutive win
with 12 fourth-quarter points. Hudson and Fred Hoiberg scored
Minnesota's first 20 points of the quarter, and the Wolves used a
15-0 run to open a 75-58 lead.

Asked about his post-game speech in the locker room, Frank said:
"It had nothing to do with the streak. No one talked about the
streak. We just talked about getting better."

Echoed Kenyon Martin: "You don't look back. You just look
ahead."

Hoiberg started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and two foul
shots before Hudson took over. He nailed a turnaround jumper from
the perimeter, scored on a drive and hit another long jumper to
bring the crowd to its feet.

Hoiberg then brought another roar from the crowd with a
3-pointer to make it 69-58. Hudson followed with two straight 3s,
and the rout was on.

"The adrenaline was there," Hudson said.

Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak, who missed
53 games with a plantar fascia strain, added a season-high 14
points for the first-place Timberwolves.

Cassell was held out of the game with left ankle tendinitis, and
Latrell Sprewell was held to three points on 1-for-6 shooting. But
the Wolves' big three of a year ago -- Garnett, Szczerbiak and
Hudson -- came through.

The last time Hudson scored like he did Wednesday night was
against the Los Angeles Lakers in last year's playoffs. He tried to
come back from his injury earlier in the season, but only
reaggravated his ankle.

"My confidence never goes anywhere," he said. "I've been
through my ups and downs in my career for seven years to the point
where I don't get too high and I don't get too low. ... I just go
out and play hard and let the chips fall as they may."

Oh, did they fall.

"Troy was just unconscious," Hoiberg said.

Martin led the Nets with 18 points while Kerry Kittles and Jason
Kidd each had 11. Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins each had 10
points.

Martin nearly had a double-double by halftime with 10 points and
nine rebounds, but all of those points came in the first quarter.

Like their coach, the Nets didn't concern themselves with having
their streak snapped.

"No pressure," Martin said. "If we lost 14 in a row, there'd
be a lot of pressure."

The matchup between two of the NBA's most exciting offenses
didn't fit the billing in the first half. Minnesota went only
5-for-20 in the first quarter while New Jersey built a 20-12 lead.
But the Nets went cold to start the second quarter while the Wolves
scored 10 unanswered points.

The Wolves shot only 36.8 percent in the first half -- the Nets
didn't fare much better at 39 percent.

It was the toughest test for New Jersey since Frank replaced
Byron Scott as coach of the two-time defending Eastern Conference
champions on Jan. 26. Only four of the Nets' wins in their
franchise-record streak were against teams with winning records.

Game notes
The Nets went only 1-for-5 from the line. ... Martin
recorded his 24th double-double of the season. ... Minnesota's
previous win against New Jersey was an 86-85 victory on March 31,
2002 at Target Center. ... Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell are on the
cover of the latest Sports Illustrated. Asked if he fears a jinx,
Wolves coach Flip Saunders said: "I know Michael (Jordan) has been
on the cover a lot. So has Tiger Woods. They've had pretty good
success after being on the cover."

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