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Garnett goes for 29 and 15 in win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves were mostly flat
after halftime, until Latrell Sprewell provided a big energy boost
with the game winding down.

That's exactly what teammates expect from him, even with his
contract complaint claiming most of the attention during this first
week of the season.

Sprewell ended a quiet night with a flurry, scoring seven points
in a 2-minute span down the stretch to spark the Timberwolves to a
99-92 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

Kevin Garnett had eight of his 29 points in a 70-second span
with less than 2 minutes remaining, picking up where Sprewell left
off. Garnett also had 15 rebounds.

"Spree is a major, major part of this thing we're trying to put
together," said Sam Cassell, who had 13 of his 15 points in the
first half. "If he was worrying about his contract and all that
when he was on the court, this wouldn't have happened."

Sprewell, who is making $14.6 million in the final year of his
deal and seeking a two-year extension, bolted the locker room
before reporters entered. He finished with 14 points and five
rebounds.

"Anytime you let a scorer get a couple of easy baskets, hold
on," said David Wesley, who had 21 points for the winless Hornets.
Baron Davis scored 21 points and dished out 12 assists.

The Timberwolves were in danger of squandering a solid first
half, letting New Orleans surge back with a suddenly energetic,
Davis-led running game.

"We wanted it to be a running game from the beginning," Wesley
said. "The third quarter is the way we want to play for 48
minutes."

Sprewell, who played only 17 of the first 40 minutes, knocked
down a shot with 3:08 left to put Minnesota up 83-80. He ran a
full-court fast break for a layup on the next possession -- and
drained a jumper with 1:29 remaining to give the Wolves a 90-83
advantage.

Cassell, who had 13 of his 15 points in the first half, wrapped
his arms around Sprewell on their way back to the bench after a
timeout was called.

"Spree was phenomenal in the clutch, just like we expect him to
be," said his backup, Fred Hoiberg.

Wesley's 3-pointer with 15.5 seconds left pulled New Orleans to
95-92, but Minnesota closed it out with a steady stream of free
throws.

The Hornets trailed by as many as 18, when Cassell's 3-pointer
with 1:34 left before halftime made it 54-36. New Orleans went on a
29-9 run from there, taking a 65-63 lead on a layup by Davis in the
third.

But Minnesota, which rebounded from an ugly 94-92 overtime loss
at Denver on Thursday, ultimately made the Hornets pay for their
lack of rebounding -- the Wolves held a 44-31 edge on the boards.

"It's been our bread and butter since I've been here," said
forward P.J. Brown. "So far this year it hasn't, but it's early.
Some things need to change."

This isn't a promising start for the Hornets, who were
transferred to the deep Southwest Division in the tougher Western
Conference -- where it will be much more difficult to qualify for
the playoffs. Especially with small forward Jamal Mashburn done for
the season with a knee injury.

Under new coach Byron Scott, their third boss in as many years,
the Hornets are 0-3. They were beaten by Orlando 90-89 on Friday
after a last-second shot by Steve Francis.

"We've definitely got to get more energy and push from the
bench," Davis said. "We have more talent on our bench than last
year."

The Wolves, after a sluggish start that had them trailing 20-12
midway through the first quarter, seized control with 52.3 percent
shooting before halftime en route to a 54-40 lead.

Garnett gave a clinic on how to play the low post, frequently
exploiting Jamaal Magloire and Chris Andersen for his 19 first-half
points.

It was nothing anybody hadn't seen before. Garnett would thrust
his right arm into the air, call for the ball with his usual "To
the hand!" plea and twist his long, slender frame around the
defender, along the baseline and up toward the hoop.

Cassell found plenty of creases on the wing, too, shooting
6-for-8 for his 13 first-half points.

Game notes
The Hornets have lost seven of eight in this series. ...
Garnett, Cassell and Sprewell scored 138 of Minnesota's 191 points
in the two victories over New Orleans last season. ... Hoiberg, who
made a pair of 3-pointers for Minnesota in the third quarter, left
with back spasms early in the fourth.