KG leads Minnesota to fourth straight win

PHOENIX (AP) -- Defense, clutch shooting and Kevin Garnett were
enough to end the Phoenix Suns' nine-game winning streak.

Garnett had 23 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists, and the
Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away in the final seven minutes to
beat the Suns 97-93 Friday night.

Sam Cassell scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to
help the Timberwolves win their fourth in a row and hand the Suns
just their third defeat in 16 games.

Garnett had 11 offensive boards, and has 65 rebounds in the last
four games.

Latrell Sprewell scored 22, including 4-of-5 3-pointers, and
Wally Szczerbiak added 14 points for Minnesota, 3-0 on a four-game
road trip. Eddie Griffin had 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Amare Stoudemire had 28 points but only four rebounds, Shawn
Marion 21 points and 18 rebounds and Steve Nash 22 points and eight
assists for the Suns, who were 2-for-18 from 3-point range.

"In these games, it boils down to three or four possessions to
decide who wins," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We were
down by five, went to our zone and all of a sudden we were up by
five. We kind of regained control of the tempo of the game."

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni thought it was his team's tightness
more than Minnesota's defense that caused the shooting woes.

"I just thought we were kind of tentative," he said. "We knew
this was a big game for us and I just don't think we stepped up the
way we should."

Both D'Antoni and Stoudemire called it a learning experience.

"It's good that we experienced this early in the season, so
that when we get another tough game like this we'll be prepared for
it," Stoudemire said.

Slowing the fast-paced Suns was a big part of Minnesota's game

"We sat here and watched their last three games and they got
27, 24, 27 layups," Garnett said. "It was very important not
only to control the pace of the game but play some defense, try to
make it difficult on Steve."

The Suns, one victory shy of their best start in franchise
history, led 79-77 after Casey Jacobsen made one of two free throws
with 7:42 left. But Fred Hoiberg and Griffin sank 3s to ignite a
14-4 run that put Minnesota ahead 91-83 on Sprewell's fast-break
layup with 3:37 remaining. The Suns committed three turnovers in
the decisive run.

"We just wanted to get the game to the fourth quarter -- up
four, down four, whatever it may be," Cassell said. "We like our
chances against any team in the league in that situation."

Phoenix's small lineup ran into big problems against the
physical Timberwolves, who outrebounded the Suns 59-47, 22-14 on
the offensive boards.

Sprewell sank consecutive 3-pointers and Garnett made a 10-foot
bank shot in a 6-1 spurt in the final 56 seconds of the half to
give the Timberwolves a 50-46 lead at the break.

Phoenix briefly got its familiar fast game going in an 8-0 spurt
that put the Suns up 65-59 on Nash's 14-foot fadeaway jumper. But
Sprewell's 3-pointer and Griffin's three-point play quickly made it
65-all. Stoudemire's baseline stuff on a three-point play and
Nash's fast-break basket got the Suns up 70-69 after three

Garnett had 14 points and 11 rebounds -- seven on the offensive
boards -- in the first half, and Griffin had 10 rebounds in the
first two quarters.

Stoudemire scored 17 in the first half but had just one rebound.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first two quarters, the
Suns shooting 39 percent and the Timberwolves 43 percent.
^Notes:@ Minnesota committed six turnovers in the third quarter. ...
The Suns' Joe Johnson was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in the
first half and finished 2-for-11 for four points. ... Minnesota
held Phoenix to 25 percent shooting (7-for-28) in the second
quarter. ... The Suns scored less than 100 for only the third time
this season.

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