Wolves Bite Suns


In a new country and a new style of basketball, Radoslav Nesterovic just wants to fit in. On Saturday night he stole the show.

Nesterovic scored 23 points, on 11-for-12 shooting, and grabbed eight rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the fatigued Phoenix Suns, 111-100.

"I come out every game and try to do my best," said the rookie center, who was Minnesota's first-round pick in the 1998 draft. "Today things worked out."

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  • Nesterovic, who was born in Slovenia and played in the Italian League for two seasons, had his career-high by the end of the first quarter with 11. Nesterovic played in just two regular-season games for Minnesota last season and scored a total of 24 points in his five previous games.

    "I just tried to run with their big men," said Nesterovic. "We thought they were a little slower than we are and my teammates just passed the ball well."

    Terrell Brandon had 21 points and nine assists for Minnesota, which won its third straight after losing the opener.

    Anfernee Hardaway had 21 points for Phoenix, which has lost two in a row following a four-game winning streak. Rookie Shawn Marion had 13 points for the Suns, who played their fourth game in five nights on the road.

    "Sure you're a little tired," Hardaway said of his team's road trip. "But, we were just not hustling. We don't have the fire in our defense that we should."

    Hardaway, like many others, was surprised at how well Nesterovic played.

    "He played an awesome game," Hardaway said of Nesterovic.

    "We didn't give him as much respect as we needed to," said Phoenix coach Danny Ainge. "We were concerned with Kevin Garnett."

    Garnett added 16 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double in four games this season. Rookie forward Wally Szcerbiak added 18 points for Minnesota.

    "It feels good. To myself I felt I had a pretty bad game," said Garnett, who also had six assists and four blocks. "Wally and Rasho (Nesterovic) really stepped it up."

    Minnesota started the second half with a 23-12 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 77-56 at the 5:50 mark. Nesterovic led the way with eight points and Brandon had seven, including a spinning, acrobatic layup over Jason Kidd.

    The Suns didn't get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

    The Timberwolves used a 13-2 run at the start of the second quarter to take a 38-27 lead with 7:31 remaining. Minnesota went into halftime with a 54-44 lead.

    Notes

  • There were 20,003 fans in attendance, the largest Target Center crowd since April 11, 1998 against Utah.
  • Nesterovic's previous high was eight points. His .971 shooting percentage in the game tied a franchise high. Garnett and Tom Gugliotta also shot 11-for-12 in a game for Minnesota.
  • Marion has scored double figures in six of seven games this season.
  • After winning the first 25 games in the series, Phoenix has dropped eight of the last 12 against Minnesota.
  • The Suns head to Phoenix for a six-game homestand, the longest of the season, starting Monday against the Lakers.

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