Pierce held to 12 points; Garnett nets 21 points, 13 rebounds

BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin McHale's coaching debut in Boston was a
success, thanks to Latrell Sprewell.

Sprewell made a runner with 0.9 seconds remaining to lift the
Minnesota Timberwolves over the Celtics 99-97 on Sunday, giving
McHale a victory in his first game on the sidelines in Boston.

"Spree stayed ready the whole game," McHale said. "I told
Spree to stay ready, we're gonna need you. Sometimes those
basketball gods reward you for doing the right stuff."

McHale, who took over as Timberwolves coach for the fired Flip
Saunders, played his entire 13-year, Hall of Fame career in green
and white. He helped lead the Celtics to three NBA championships
before taking over as Minnesota's vice president of basketball
operations in 1995.

"I enjoy coming back to Boston," McHale said. "But, I'll be
honest with you. Taking over when I did -- in the middle of the
season with no practice -- I am so worried about our team and what
we have to do that I couldn't enjoy it."

McHale's trip would have been even less enjoyable if not for
Sprewell's floater from the left baseline. Ricky Davis had a chance
to tie it for the Celtics, but his open jumper from 18 feet rimmed
out as time expired.

Kevin Garnett had 21 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for
the Wolves, who handed the Celtics their first loss since the
return of Antoine Walker. Wally Szczerbiak added 20 points.

Walker had 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting for Boston and had a
chance to give the Celtics the lead with 1:43 left, but missed the
first of two foul shots. He made the second to tie the game at 97.

"I thought Antoine battled Garnett extremely well on the post
and took him out of some stuff there," Celtics coach Doc Rivers
said. "But we had more blow-bys, we had more times when we could
have fronted them. It was just a disappointing loss in that way."

Davis scored 22 points to pace Boston, which had won four
straight after reacquiring Walker before the trading deadline. Gary
Payton, who was traded for Walker but re-signed with Boston after
being waived by Atlanta, added 17 points and six assists.

Minnesota limited Paul Pierce to 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting,
but he did have nine assists.

"Minnesota did a great job executing," Pierce said. "Both
teams shot the ball really well, we just didn't come up with that
defensive stand that we needed."

The Celtics used a 10-4 spurt to take an 83-76 lead with 8:45
left. Delonte West and Mark Blount each scored four points during
the stretch.

But the Wolves later answered with a 10-4 run of their own and
took an 88-87 lead on Fred Hoiberg's 3-pointer with 6:02 to play.
Szczerbiak's three-point play with 4 minutes left extended
Minnesota's lead to 94-89.

Davis answered with a three-point play for Boston 36 seconds
later and his jump shot with 2:49 left gave the Celtics a 96-95

Garnett followed with a jumper in the lane to put Minnesota back
up 97-96.

Garnett scored 12 of his points in the third quarter, but the
Celtics countered with a 7-1 run midway through the period.
Pierce's layup with 41.7 seconds on the clock gave his team a 73-72
entering the fourth.

Game notes
West has not committed a turnover in 81:03. ... The Wolves'
Sam Cassell missed the game with a strained right hamstring.
Michael Olowokandi also sat with a knee injury. ... McHale is the
fifth member of the 1985-86 champion Celtics to become a head coach
in the NBA. Larry Bird, Rick Carlisle, Dennis Johnson and current
Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge are the others.