Timberwolves 101, Clippers 98
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kevin Garnett scored 35 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Clippers 101-98 Saturday night to clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Garnett hit the go-ahead basket with 1:03 remaining to put Minnesota ahead 99-98.
Earl Boykins missed a 14-footer for the Clippers and Corey Maggette fouled Chauncey Billups, who made both free throws with 1.7 seconds left to seal the victory.
Garnett grabbed 10 rebounds, breaking his single-season franchise record of 956 set in 1999-2000. He has 963 with two games remaining.
Billups added 28 points and 10 assists and Joe Smith had 18 points for the Wolves, who ended a three-game losing streak at Staples Center.
Maggette led the Clippers with 24 points. Quentin Richardson added 19 points and Darius Miles had 12.
Minnesota led by 15 points in the first quarter, but the Clippers chipped away and went ahead 49-48 at halftime.
A 3-pointer by Billups at the end of the third quarter allowed the Wolves to take a 79-78 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Neither team led by more than three points in the fourth, and the lead changed hands five times in the final 3:17.
Billups hit three consecutive free throws, including one on a technical against Michael Olowokandi, to put Minnesota ahead 95-93 with 3:33 remaining.
Moments later, Garnett received a technical and was called for an offensive foul. Jeff McInnis hit the technical free throw and Maggette made two foul shots as the Clippers led 96-95.
The teams traded baskets before Garnett scored to put Minnesota ahead 99-98.
The loss deprived the Clippers of a chance to finish the season at .500. They are 38-42 with two games remaining.
Notes: McInnis fell at midcourt with 1:03 remaining and had to be helped off the court. He limped to the locker room. ... Before the game, Olowokandi said the $50,000 fine he received from the Clippers for speaking out recently about his contract situation hadn't been rescinded, which seemingly contradicted what the team said Friday. He said he felt better about the team's future after meeting with GM Elgin Baylor. "They did acknowledge we have a good thing with this team and they would do everything they can to keep the team together," Olowokandi said. "I guess that should settle whatever anxieties players have." Team spokesman Joe Safety reiterated that the fine was rescinded, although he said team officials hadn't talked to Olowokandi on Saturday. "I didn't realize he was confused," Safety said. ... The teams split the season series, 2-2. ... Minnesota is 21-20 on the road, the second-highest total in franchise history. The Wolves have kept their road record at or above .500 all season. ... The Clippers are 5-15 in the second game of a back-to-back set. They lost to Pacific Division champion Sacramento on Friday night.