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Garnett leads Timberwolves past Rockets

Dec 7, 2006 - 3:44 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Superstar Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves relied on their defense against the Houston Rockets.

Garnett collected 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks and Mike James chipped in 19 points as the Timberwolves posted a 90-84 triumph over the Rockets.

Minnesota had nine blocks, 10 steals and forced 18 turnovers as it captured consecutive wins for just the third time this season.

"We're a pretty good defensive team. I know they're a good team, but that doesn't discount what we do," Garnett said. "We take a lot of pride. We view ourselves as hyenas vs. the one or two lions. I think that's the way it should be."

In the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves created some distance when they used a 14-2 burst during a four-minute stretch to build an 85-77 advantage with 5:20 remaining. Garnett, Marko Jaric and Troy Hudson combined for 12 points in the surge.

"We came out and just played good basketball," James said. "We have a great team. T-Hud (Hudson) and Marko - they can start on anybody's team."

Rafer Alston's 3-pointer cut it to 87-84 with 50 seconds to go, but Garnett sank three of the game's final four free throws to keep Houston at bay.

"Every team in this league is going to continue to fight until the horn goes off," Garnett said. "We wanted to continue to do the things we wanted to do and be aggressive. We just held on to the lead." The defense of 7-footers Garnett and Mark Blount was impressive against the 1-2 punch of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, holding the All-Star duo to just one point in the final quarter, when Houston shot a lowly 28 percent (7-of-25) from the field.

"I think our guys did a heck of a job of defending him (Yao) the way we did," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "We were guarding him from different places. We didn't chase him in many zones, so it was basically the double coverage of Kevin and Mark (Blount)."

"The main thing was with with them being so long on the defensive end, every time I came off the pick-and-roll they switched with Kevin," McGrady said. "I came and tried to catch and shoot and they switched. They did a great job."

Blount scored 12 points and rookie Craig Smith added 10 off the bench for Minnesota, which shot 44 percent (35-of-78) and scored 36 points in the paint.

McGrady and Yao finished with 14 points apiece for the Rockets, who shot 34 percent (31-of-89) overall.

"We didn't have very good offense," Houston forward Shane Battier said. "Credit the Timberwolves for that; they did play good defense. We didn't get the shots where we want them usually."

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