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Wolves Race Over Nuggets

After picking up his fifth and sixth fouls in a 39-second span, Kevin Garnett put his hands on top of his smoothly shaved head and flashed a look of dismay.

Trailing by three points and playing without their leading scorer for the final 2:16, the Minnesota Timberwolves appeared to be in big trouble against the Denver Nuggets.

"That was the dumbest thing I've done since I've been here. I was playing like I didn't have a foul." said Garnett, who scored 28 points and then anxiously watched Minnesota pull out a 105-101 victory over the Nuggets on Friday night.

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  • Terrell Brandon added 17 points and 12 assists as the Timberwolves made eight free throws in the final 1:39 to snap a four-game losing streak and beat Denver for the ninth time in 10 games.

    "The team held on. The team came through," a relieved Garnett said. "Guys came off the bench and made some big shots."

    Recently acquired Dennis Scott was the primary spark off the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He also made two free throws that sealed the victory with 7.7 seconds left.

    "This is a young team with a lot of heart," said Scott, who signed a 10-day contract Wednesday. "Hopefully, with my veteran leadership I can help them out in situations like tonight."

    Danny Fortson had 19 points and 17 rebounds before fouling out with 1:25 left and Nick Van Exel chipped in with 21 points and 13 assists for Denver.

    Johnny Taylor added a career-high 21 points, but the Nuggets went without a field goal after Antonio McDyess' slam dunk with 5:15 remaining.

    "It comes down to the little things," Denver coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're going to have to have a little more heart than we showed tonight. You have to want to win more than anything in the world."

    The Wolves are still learning to win since trading point guard Stephon Marbury to New Jersey on March 11. Minnesota is 2-5 since the trade, but Brandon has been impressive as he adjusts to his new teammates.

    "I think Terrell and (Garnett) are getting better together," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "Look at his assists. He is averaging over 10 assists for us."

    Van Exel hit two free throws following Garnett's disqualification to give the Nuggets a 98-95 lead, but Scott hit a 19-footer and Bill Curley followed a Denver miss with two free throws to put Minnesota ahead with 1:39 left.

    The Nuggets, losers of nine of 10, tied the game one last time when McDyess hit one of two free throws. Joe Smith and Scott combined for six free throws down the stretch to keep Denver at bay.

    Minnesota finished 36-of-39 from the free throw line, while the Nuggets were 24-of-34.

    "As a team, we did a nice job of knocking down our free throws," Smith said. "That's what won the game for us."

    Neither team led by more than four points throughout the second half, which featured 15 ties and 10 lead changes.

    Denver's biggest lead was 95-91 with 4:07 left, but the Nuggets went cold the rest of the way, missing their last six shots after McDyess' two-hand slam.


    • Through 24 games, Denver has played 19 teams with winning records. The Nuggets are 3-16 in that span.
    • Van Exel surpassed 6,000 career points.
    • Minnesota shot 43 percent from the floor and improved to 11-0 when shooting better than the opposition.
    • The Timberwolves still haven't shot 50 percent in 17 straight games.
    • Minnesota is last in the NBA in 3-point shooting (24.3 percent). The Wolves were 1-of-7 from long range Friday.

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