SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Minnesota's playoff hopes are a little bit
less of a long shot.
The Timberwolves staved off elimination for the second straight
game by beating the Utah Jazz 100-84 Friday night, then learned
Memphis had lost at Denver to further shrink the margin for the
final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Minnesota still needs to win all three of its remaining games
and have the Grizzlies lose three straight, but just two days
earlier those numbers were five.
"We've got three games left. We've got to win. Period," said
Kevin Garnett, who led Minnesota with 21 points and nine rebounds.
"I'm not going to worry and lose what's left of the hair I do
have. Everybody is watching and we are definitely aware of the
Wally Szczerbiak had 17 points and eight rebounds and Fred
Hoiberg scored 14 in reserve roles for Minnesota. Hoiberg held the
ball for the final seconds before the final horn sounded, and the
Wolves dashed off to the locker room waiting to learn they had
staved off elimination for the second straight game.
Minnesota is idle on Saturday while Memphis visits Southwest
Division winner San Antonio, but Wolves coach Kevin McHale didn't
want to talk about any other teams.
"Practice tomorrow and play Seattle on Sunday," was McHale's
reaction to Memphis' loss.
The Wolves fell behind by 10 early and overcame a few verbal
spats among themselves to beat the Jazz for the third time in four
games this season. The Wolves finally broke away in the fourth
quarter and outscored Utah 30-19 -- even with Garnett resting on the
bench for much of the period.
"Started out like they were going to get 190 points and then we
played a lot better defensively and had a really nice segment there
in the second half," McHale said.
Minnesota also outrebounded Utah 50-40 and made 10 of 11 free
throws in the fourth quarter to clinch it.
Latrell Sprewell hit a jumper to cap an 11-4 run to open the
third quarter and gave the Wolves a 59-48 lead. Utah cut it down to
two, but couldn't get it any closer.
"Well, it looked like we were going to make a little bit of a
ballgame out of it. We got with it in the first half but in the
second half we just totally collapsed," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan
said. "We get in our heads that everybody's got to do it on their
own and start taking shots without realizing what an offense can
The Wolves led 70-65 entering the fourth and opened the final
period with a 14-4 run. Gordan Giricek missed a shot for Utah and
Hoiberg broke free for an easy layup to put Minnesota up 78-65,
then after a goaltending call gave Utah two points, Hoiberg added a
jumper and two free throws to make it 82-69.
"I think we held our composure a little bit better than we did
in the first," Hoiberg said.
Garnett, who also had a team-high five assists, played just one
minute early in the fourth quarter, resting up for Sunday's home
game against Seattle. He said he planned on taking his niece and
nephew shopping and maybe catch a little of the Grizzlies-Spurs
"I'm sure if I'm flipping channels and I come across them, I'll
stop and pause and watch it," Garnett said.
Minnesota C Michael Olowokandi, who already had a technical
foul earlier in the game, got Minnesota its second delay of game
when he threw the ball into the air on his way to the bench. Coach
Kevin McHale yelled and pointed at Olowokandi as he sat down and
cooled off. ... Utah was just 36 for 88 from the floor.