Timberwolves best in the west

Leading the pack: No Minnesota team has been this good, this late

Posted: Monday, January 26, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS Sam Cassell scored 14 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to their fourth straight win, 99-95 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Kevin Garnett had 19 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists as Minnesota extended its home winning streak to 11 games. Trenton Hassell added a season-high 15 points and six rebounds.

The Wolves moved into a tie with Sacramento for the best record in the Western Conference at 30-12. The Kings lost 108-99 to Dallas on Sunday.

Minnesota has never been in first place in the conference this late in the season.

Shawn Marion had 31 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost three straight games and fell to 16-29, the worst record in the West. Joe Johnson had 22 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Jake Voskuhl added 10 points.

Voskuhl hit a foul shot to tie it at 88 with 1:19 left.

Garnett then hit a bank shot in traffic to give Minnesota a 90-88 lead with 1:02 remaining. Marion's driving floater on the ensuing possession was long and Latrell Sprewell was fouled as he came down with the rebound.

Sprewell, who just 1-for-7 from the field for four points, hit both foul shots to give the Wolves the lead for good at 92-88 with 42 seconds left.

Mavericks 108, Kings 99

DALLAS The Dallas Mavericks have won eight straight games, and the latest victory means the most.

Michael Finley scored 23 points, including the go-ahead 18-footer with 1:58 left, and the Mavericks won 108-99 Sunday over the Sacramento Kings, who entered with the Western Conference's best record.

After Sacramento (30-12) fought back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 97 on Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 2:14 left, the Mavericks scored nine straight points to clinch the victory.

Finley's shot put the Mavericks ahead, and after a Kings miss, Steve Nash passed to Dirk Nowitzki for a layup and then added the free throw to put the Mavericks over 100 points with 1:28 to go.

Nash had 21 points and a season-high 13 assists, with just one turnover. Nowitzki had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Peja Stojakovic led Sacramento with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Doug Christie had 23 points, while Jackson had 18.

Rockets 99, Magic 87

ORLANDO, Fla. Yao Ming scored 21 of his career-high 37 points in the third quarter to cover up an awful game by Steve Francis, and Houston won for the sixth time in seven games.

Yao also grabbed 10 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season and sixth during the Rockets' recent run.

Francis, Houston's leading scorer, had only seven points 10 below his average. He missed eight of 11 shots, and his first field goal didn't come until 38.2 seconds remained in the third quarter.

Tracy McGrady scored 31 points for Orlando.

Grizzlies 106, Nuggets 88

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Bonzi Wells scored 17 points and the Memphis Grizzlies extended their franchise-record winning streak to eight games.

Memphis shot 26-for-37 after the break and outscored Denver 64-39 in the second half for their seventh straight home win.

Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift each scored 15 for Memphis, and Lorenzen Wright and Mike Miller finished with 12.

Carmelo Anthony shot 10-for-17 and scored 16 of his team-best 25 points in the second half for Denver.

Nets 110, Celtics 91

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Richard Jefferson scored 25 points and the New Jersey Nets ended their longest losing streak since Jason Kidd joined the team more than two years ago.

Kenyon Martin added 20 points and 15 rebounds and Kidd had 10 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to help the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions snap a five-game slide.

Ricky Davis had 26 points to lead the Celtics, who had a two game winning streak snapped.

Bulls 96, Raptors 89

CHICAGO Jamal Crawford scored 27 points and the Chicago Bulls broke a six-game losing streak in the teams' first meeting since a major Dec. 1 trade.

Crawford also hounded former teammate Jalen Rose, who finished with 22 points for the Raptors but shot just 5-for-12 from the field in his return to Chicago. Toronto has lost five straight.

Toronto is now 12-14 since the trade that sent Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter from Chicago to Toronto for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams and Chris Jefferies. The Raptors are 20-22 overall.

The Bulls are 9-19 since the deal and 13-31 for the season.

Hawks 91, Pistons 82

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Jason Terry scored 22 points and Stephen Jackson added 21 as short-handed Atlanta ended Detroit's nine-game home winning streak.

Atlanta only dressed nine players due to injuries, but still ended its four-game losing streak on the road. The Pistons have lost three straight since a 13-game winning streak. It was their first defeat at home since an 82-79 loss to New Jersey on Dec. 26.

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