Timberwolves overcome slow start, beat Bobcats

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett got a rare fourth quarter off thanks in part to a season-high scoring performance from Michael Olowokandi.

Olowokandi scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and Garnett finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds in three quarters as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Charlotte Bobcats 102-89 on Saturday night.

"I'll tell you what, he's been super the last couple of weeks," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said of Olowokandi. "As long as he's playing well, we'll keep going to him."

Earlier in the week, Olowokandi fell ill after scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds against Houston. He was questionable for Thursday's game but still had 14 points, which was his season high entering this game.

"This is the best I have felt physically," said Olowokandi, largely considered a bust in his first two seasons with the Timberwolves. "It's been a tough couple of years. I give a lot of credit to my teammates and coaches that have been working with me."

Garnett is impressed with his teammate's recent play.

"I don't know what he's been dining on, but he should continue dining on it," Garnett said. "He's in a nice flow and his confidence is up. And we just have to continue to fuel him."

Olowokandi wasn't available to reporters after the game.

Wally Szczerbiak added 15 points for Minnesota, which won its second straight game after losing two in a row. Troy Hudson had 13 points and Rashad McCants 11.

Olowokandi, who entered the game averaging 8.6 points per game, also had eight rebounds and four blocks.

"When big guys play like that, it's hard to stop," Charlotte's Raymond Felton said. "If he's scoring like that, and Troy Hudson's hitting, and with Garnett and Szczerbiak, they're going to be tough."

After struggling offensively through the first 2½ quarters, Minnesota began to pull away midway through the third with a 10-2 run to take a 14-point lead. The Bobcats hung tough thanks to some key baskets by Kareem Rush and Jumaine Jones.

Rush and Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Rush added a pair of free throws to make it 70-61 with 1:07 to play in the third. Richie Frahm hit a driving layup, Garnett sank a jumper with .6 seconds to go, and Olowokandi opened the fourth quarter outscoring Charlotte 8-2 on a series of soft jumpers as the Wolves took an 82-63 lead early in the fourth.

McCants made a layup off an impressive spin move in the lane to give Minnesota its biggest lead at 85-63 with 7:49 to play.

"They got on a streak where they were scoring and getting a lot of calls," Jones said. "It was rough."

Charlotte never came closer than 13 points the rest of the way, and Garnett got some much-needed rest.

"That'll help us down the road," Casey said.

Felton led the Bobcats, who lost their second in a row, with 15 points. Rush added 13, Emeka Okafor had 11 and Brevin Knight, Matt Carroll and Jones each had 10.

The Wolves held Charlotte to a season-low 38 first-half points -- Charlotte's previous season low was 39. However, they barely topped their own season low (41), managing 45 points on 19-for-43 shooting.

Game notes
McCants and Bobcats rookies Felton and Sean May led the North Carolina Tar Heels to the 2005 NCAA championship. ... Olowokandi blocked three shots in the first half. ... Bobcats forward Melvin Ely missed his fifth-straight game with a shin injury. ... Despite being inactive for the game, Bobcats guard Kevin Burleson had a smile on his face for his homecoming. Burleson played college ball for the Minnesota Gophers and played last season in Germany before signing with Charlotte as a rookie free agent this summer.

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