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Garnett, Timberwolves top Clippers, end skid

Jan 28, 2007 - 7:46 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves finally snapped out of their funk.

Garnett had 32 points and nine rebounds and Mike James added 17 and seven as the Timberwolves snapped their season-high six-game losing streak with a 101-87 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Yielding 108 points per game during its skid, Minnesota buckled down defensively to improve to 1-2 under interim coach Randy Wittman, who replaced recently the fired Dwane Casey.

"We were active defensively and we got after them pretty good," Wittman said. "Right from the beginning, we wanted to attack Sam (Cassell), since he has been pretty effective against us. We didn't want to give him an early start and get him going."

A former member of the Timberwolves, Cassell scored just 14 points in 34 minutes.

With the win, the Timberwolves (21-22) and Clippers now have identical records as they battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"(Coach Wittman) wanted the young guys to begin to think of the importance of each game," Garnett said. "He told us that the Clippers had caught us (in the standings) because he wants us to realize a team is on your (butt). More than anything, he wants the young guys to know what that is all about. That is how a smart team grows. And that is good."

Garnett was 10-of-19 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line, using his height advantage to loft soft jumpers over numerous defenders. However, his biggest contribution came during crunch time.

Trailing by one point with 8:15 left, the Timberwolves went on a decisive 10-0 run, capped by Garnett's jumper to make it 90-81 with 4:22 left. Garnett scored six points during the spurt.

"It feels good to get a win," Garnett said. "We have been playing hard. Right now, we just have to grind it out the best way we can. We are just trying to get home on a high note."

Finishing a five-game road trip, Minnesota was coming off Friday's 102-100 loss to Seattle - its fourth loss in a row on the road and sixth overall. The Timberwolves snapped their skid with tough play on the defensive end, holding the Clippers to just 43 percent (27-of-63) shooting from the field and forcing 26 turnovers.

"Besides turning the ball over 26 times, a lot of guys in the scoresheets didn't make their shots," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We tried to fight through that and searched to find combinations that would work or play sets that would get you good enough looks or get to the free-throw line. We were searching for that all night long.

"At the beginning of the game, we were executing pretty well and then we got out of character."

Elton Brand had 25 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, which had its season-high four-game winning streak snapped.

"I don't think we were too flat at the beginning, but we got behind early and tried to bring up our intensity," Brand said. "They knew the implications of this game, and so did we. We just weren't hitting shots. That was the big problem, not hitting our shots to open it up."

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