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Garnett gets down, dirty

Gritty effort has Minnesota near first playoff series win

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004

DENVER Kevin Garnett's determination has the Minnesota Timberwolves within a game of reaching the second round.

Garnett had 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists Tuesday night, helping the Timberwolves hold off the Denver Nuggets 84-82 for a 3-1 series lead.

Garnett had several heated exchanges with the Nuggets after being pushed around in Game 3, but kept his cool this time. He finished 8-for-17 and was 11-for-15 on free throws to put Minnesota in position to reach the second round first time in eight tries.

It almost wasn't enough. Minnesota led by eight midway through the fourth, but Marcus Camby cut it to 76-74 on a 3-point play with 4:43 left that got the crowd on its feet. The Timberwolves pushed it back to a six-point lead, but Voshon Lenard hit a 3-pointer and had a steal that led to another 3 that made it 81-80 with 1:14 left.

Latrell Sprewell answered with a 3-pointer in the corner, then Nene scored on a dunk to make it 84-82 with 18 seconds left. Sprewell missed two free throws with 12 seconds remaining at the other end. But Andre Miller missed a shot in the lane and Lenard was nowhere close on a turnaround at the buzzer. Game 5 is Friday in Minnesota.

Minnesota played without sixth man Wally Szczerbiak, who broke three vertebrae in a nasty fall in Game 3, but got 14 points from defensive specialist Trenton Hassell and 15 from Sam Cassell.

Lenard had 28 points and Miller 13 for Denver, but star rookie Carmelo Anthony had just two points on 1-for-16 shooting against Hassell and spent the final minutes of the fourth quarter waving a towel from the bench.

Anthony struggled from the start, missing all nine shots in the first half and had a runner from halfcourt waved off because it came after the buzzer.

Hornets 96, Heat 85

NEW ORLEANS The New Orleans Hornets have stopped showing their age and started showing their experience. Baron Davis had 23 points and 10 assists, while 13-year veteran Stacy Augmon came off the bench for 17 points, including two shot clock beaters in the final period. The Hornets evened their first-round playoff series with a 96-85 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 Tuesday night.

Miami, by far the younger team, was hurt by a late mistake by rookie Dwyane Wade, who failed to inbound the ball before the requisite five seconds with 53.6 seconds left and the Hornets leading 88-82. After that, Miami was forced to foul. New Orleans hit the free throws to pull away. The series resumes Friday night in Miami. The home team has won every game.

Augmon and another veteran role player, George Lynch, combined to shoot 11-for-16 as the Hornets shot 50 percent as a team. Lynch finished with 11.

New Orleans led much of the game, but began the fourth quarter down 71-68 after a furious rally by Miami. But Davis quickly tied it with one of his five 3-pointers and New Orleans began to dictate the game in the final two minutes after Augmon's shot-clock buzzer beater gave New Orleans an 86-80 lead.

Jamaal Magloire and David Wesley each scored 12 points for New Orleans, while rookie David West had eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Lamar Odom led Miami with 25 points on an array of drives and jump hooks. Eddie Jones had 16, but Caron Butler, who had been Miami's leading scorer in the series, was held to 3-of-11 shooting for seven points. Wade finished with 11. Miami was 5-of-22 from 3-point range and finished shooting 40.5 percent.

New Orleans led 60-49 in the third quarter after Lynch hit a 3-pointer. Instead of folding, Miami went on a 22-6 run to storm ahead.

Rafer Alston gave Miami its first lead since midway through the first quarter when he hit a pair of foul shots to make it 67-66. Jones followed with a baseline jumper and Odom a short jump hook to cap a 12-0 run and put the Heat ahead 71-66 in the final minute of the period.

The Hornets, who came in shooting 33 percent over the first three games of the series, hit nine of their first 10 shots in the second quarter. They led 41-34 after Augmon finished a fast break by grabbing a touch pass from Lynch and dunking it. It was Augmon's second dunk of the game and his eighth point of the quarter.

New Orleans shot nearly 69 percent for the quarter and 61.3 percent for the half. But by opening up the game, the Hornets were less effective on defense. Jones broke out of his shooting slump, hitting three 3-pointers. He had 11 first-half points.

Miami was within three points when Davis failed to draw a foul on a pump-fake from 3-point range, but threw in a leaning, long-range shot off the front rim anyway to give New Orleans a 50-44 lead at halftime.

Notes: The game was delayed about four minutes late in the second quarter because someone threw a cream pie in the face of Hornets television sideline reporter Jordy Hultberg. The pie splattered onto the court and took several minutes to clean up. When play resumed, Caron Butler slipped in that same area and Miami coach Stan Van Gundy went into a tirade. ... Like Game 3 here, Game 4 fell short of a sellout. Announced attendance in the 17,200-seat New Orleans Arena was 16,009. Deputy NBA commissioner Russ Granik attended the game and said the league was disappointed not to get playoff sellouts, but not concerned about the long-term viability of the franchise in New Orleans. ''It's still a new operation here and I feel very comfortable with the general level of support,'' Granik said, noting the league is pleased with the team's TV and sponsorship deals.



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