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T'Wolves' Stars Bite Hawks

MINNEAPOLIS -- The All-Star Game's loss is the Minnesota Timberwolves' gain.

Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury, both left off the Western Conference reserves list earlier in the day, put up big numbers Tuesday night as the Wolves beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-96.

Gugliotta had 26 points and nine assists and Marbury added 21 points and eight assists for the Wolves, who have won nine of their last 10 home games and eight of nine overall.

"They both were really disappointed," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "Their mission now has to be to prove to everybody they deserved it."

Gugliotta, who played in last year's All-Star Game, wasn't nearly as disappointed as Marbury. The second-year point guard desperately wanted to play because the game is in his hometown, New York.

"All I got to say is I worked really hard in the summer ... I did what I was supposed to do," Marbury said. "I'm looking forward to playing in it next year. All that did was give me more motivation to be more sharp."

Alan Henderson scored a career-high 27 points off the bench for the Hawks, who went 6-for-21 in the third quarter when Minnesota blew the game open behind eight points by Gugliotta.

"We're not playing with any enthusiasm," Henderson said. "We closed the gap in the third quarter and then the game got out of control."

Mookie Blaylock had 19 points and nine assists for Atlanta, which was playing its fourth game in five nights.

"Sometimes there are opportune times to play teams," said Saunders, whose team hadn't played since Saturday. "We had some fresh legs."

To make matters worse for the Hawks, some problems with their plane delayed the team's arrival until around noon Tuesday. Dikembe Mutombo, who missed that flight, didn't get in until 3 p.m.

The streaky Hawks have had four winning streaks of four or more games and losing streaks of seven and now five games this season.

Atlanta scored eight straight points early in the third quarter to close within 64-60. But Minnesota answered with 11 straight points, including five by Chris Carr, to take a 75-60 lead with five minutes left in the period.

The Wolves, who blew an 18 point fourth-quarter lead at Toronto Saturday, didn't allow the Hawks to get within 10 points in the final period.

Garnett punctuated an 8-0 run with a dunk that gave the Wolves a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. Atlanta's bench brought them back early in the second, and consecutive three-point plays by Eldridge Recasner and Henderson closed the deficit to 39-37 with 7:02 left in the half.

Marbury scored 10 points over the final seven minutes of the half, however, and the Wolves went into halftime leading 61-52.

Notes

  • Minnesota became just the seventh team to score 100 or morpoints against the Hawks this season.
  • Minnesota's win total of 24 is already better than their total in five of their eight previous seasons.
  • Minnesota center Stanley Roberts returned to action Tuesday after leaving Saturday's game against Toronto with a stiff back.
  • Ex-Timberwolf Christian Laettner was greeted with boos during pregame introductions and reacted with a smirk.
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