Minnesota wins fifth straight


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With the playoffs approaching, Sam Cassell is
ready to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cassell scored a season-high 36 points to lift Minnesota past
the Memphis Grizzlies 90-82 on Sunday for the Timberwolves' fifth
straight victory.

"It's time for me to fine tune my game," the veteran point
guard said. "I'm trying to show this team how to win in the

With the victory, Minnesota moved into second place in the West
just percentage points behind Sacramento. The Wolves maintained
their 1{-game lead over San Antonio in the Midwest Division.

"I think all of these games will help prepare us for what we
expect to see in the playoffs," coach Flip Saunders said.

"This game was tight and physical and that's how it's going to
be in the west," Cassell said.

James Posey scored 19 points, Pau Gasol had 15 and Jason
Williams had 10 points and 10 assists for Memphis, which had its
seven-game winning streak snapped.

"They got stops when they needed to and made anything we tried
hard to complete," Posey said. "We got a good taste of (playoff
intensity) and we have to adjust."

The Grizzlies were outrebounded 54-40 and allowed Minnesota to
get 19 offensive rebounds.

"This was the first time we've been hammered on the boards for
quite a while," coach Hubie Brown said. "It was a good education
for us, a really good education."

Despite shooting 5-for-20 from the field, Garnett posted his
68th double-double with 14 points and 22 rebounds to tie his own
franchise record set last season.

"Once we found what was working we kept it simple," Garnett
said. "Usually I get it done offensively, but Sam was crisp
knocking shots down so we just went with him."

Michael Olowokandi had 12 points and 14 rebounds and fellow
reserve Wally Szczerbiak added 10 points. Latrell Sprewell added 11
points and Cassell had eight assists.

"To win championships your bench has to play big," Cassell
said. "I came off the bench in Houston when we won a

The game was played close throughout with Minnesota finally
taking control down the stretch.

Cassell's jumper with 4:19 left in the game gave Minnesota an
80-74 lead. The teams then traded baskets three times over the next
two minutes before Bo Outlaw hit a free throw at the 1:58 mark to
bring Memphis within 86-81.

Olowokandi tipped in a rebound on Minnesota's next possession
and Sprewell converted Garnett's block into a fast-break layup to
put the Wolves up 90-81 with 1:08 left.

Garnett also had four blocks and five assists, but appeared
frustrated all game. He was called for two straight offensive fouls
in the third quarter before receiving a technical for arguing with
referee Scott Foster.

The Wolves' Big Three of Garnett, Cassell and Sprewell scored
all Minnesota's 23 points in the third quarter. Cassell led the way
with 12 points and his 3-pointer gave Minnesota a 69-64 lead with
2:43 left. Memphis scored the last three points of the quarter to
get within 69-67.

Trailing 25-19, the Timberwolves opened the second quarter with
a 13-6 run to take their first lead of the game 32-31 with 6:10

The lead went back and forth over the next five minutes before
Shane Battier and Williams hit consecutive 3-pointers and Memphis
went up 47-43 with 23.6 seconds left. But Cassell hit a 3-pointer
at the buzzer to make it 47-46 at halftime.

The Grizzlies scored the first seven points of the game and got
out to an 11-2 lead. Minnesota made just eight of its 26 shots in
the first quarter, and Garnett was held scoreless.

"K.G. showed there are more ways to help your team than by just
scoring," Memphis guard Mike Miller said. "That's why he's so

Game notes
The Wolves were outscored in the paint 36-26. They have had
the advantage in that statistic just four times in the last 20
games. ... The Wolves shot 39.5 percent and have been held under 50
percent in 16 straight games. They have been held under 100 points
in 14 straight games. ... The Grizzlies shot just 38.7 percent from
the field after shooting at least 50 percent from the field in the
previous three. ... The Grizzlies entered Sunday ranked first in
steals per game, blocks per game and forced turnovers per game.
But, the Wolves had more steals more blocks and the same amount of
turnovers in the game.