Garnett comes up two assists shy of triple-double

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Dwyane Wade returned from his injury and
played an amazing first half. The NBA MVP just did his usual thing,
from start to finish.

Kevin Garnett came close to another triple-double, finishing
with 25 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Minnesota
Timberwolves in a 108-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday

"That was an incredible performance," teammate Fred Hoiberg

Wade, after missing the last two games with a sprained left
ankle, scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half for the Heat.
Shaquille O'Neal added 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Garnett stole the show, though -- surpassing 14,000 career points
and guiding Minnesota's best all-around effort of the season. Wally
Szczerbiak scored 21 points, and Sam Cassell added 19.

"Fourteen thousand, all with the T-Wolves -- that says something
in this day and age," Szczerbiak said.

The Timberwolves were ahead for the final 40-plus minutes,
building a lead as big as 22 when Eddie Griffin hit a 3-pointer to
make it 102-80 with 6 minutes left. Miami used an 11-0 run to pull
to 102-91, but Garnett ended the spurt by sinking a 21-footer with
1:24 left.

What has made Garnett so great has been his ability to make
everyone else on his team better.

"I thought we shared the ball exceptionally well," he said.
"Wally was on fire. Sam was on fire. We knew we had to control
Shaq, and I thought that we did a pretty good job of that."

The highlight came in the third quarter when Garnett drove the
lane, spun and put up a one-handed bank shot as he collided with
O'Neal and fell to the court. The ball went in, the Big Diesel was
whistled for a foul and Garnett made the free throw for a 72-59

The Big Ticket has topped his team in scoring and rebounding in
all six games this season, and he's been the assists leader in
five. Szczerbiak, who missed most of last season due to injury, was
the biggest beneficiary of some good passing by Garnett and

"Wally can score with the best of them," Garnett said. "When
he's patient, he gets the shots he wants."

The Heat, who dropped to 0-3 against the Western Conference,
could use some more practice time to find a better rhythm with
O'Neal and all their other new players. They've had only six off
days since the regular season started.

"I like the guys we have on this team," O'Neal said. "The
guys were playing hard, no question about that, but we were making
very, very silly mistakes."

Hurt in Thursday's loss to Dallas, Wade wasn't sure whether he
could come back this soon -- but there were no signs of him being
slowed by that bad ankle.

He scored 16 of Miami's 19 points during a five-minute surge
midway through the second quarter. Wade made a layup, stole the
ball on a careless bounce pass from Cassell to Garnett at the other
end and drove unabated for a fast-break dunk that cut Minnesota's
lead to 44-40.

"He just single-handedly kept them in the game in the first
half," Hoiberg said.

Wade, who missed 21 games during his standout rookie season with
various injuries, is already one of the league's best all-around
players at age 24 -- with a scoring average of 25.5 points per game.
He's still prone to lapses, however.

"In the second half, he tried to take over and really forced
things," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He made some of the
worst decisions in the second half that he's made all season."

Wade, scoreless in the third quarter, made more of an effort to
get the ball inside to O'Neal in the second half. But Miami is
looking for more consistency from him -- and everyone else.

"We've got to come out with more fire," Wade said. "We've got
to come out with what's inside of us."

Game notes
This was Garnett's 25th career game with at least 20 points
and 20 rebounds. He became the 16th player in NBA history to reach
14,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists. ... O'Neal went
8-for-15 at the free-throw line, a marked improvement over his
5-for-17 effort Sunday against Milwaukee. He raised his season
percentage to 39.6. ... Minnesota's Troy Hudson will put on a rap
concert at Target Center on Dec. 18. Hudson, whose stage name is
T-Hud, will perform tracks from his debut album, "The Stress of
Both Worlds." ... Wade will return Wednesday to the city where he
starred in college, with Marquette, when Miami visits Milwaukee.