Wolves get Wally win

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Wally Szczerbiak is back at full speed.

Szczerbiak had a season-high 24 points, and Latrell Sprewell scored all 16 of his points in the second half to lead Minnesota to a 93-80 victory over Phoenix on Friday night.

Szczerbiak, who missed the first 53 games of the season because of a left foot injury, was 8-of-13 from the floor in 30 minutes. He hit three of his team-high four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

"It was just nice to miss a few shots and not feel like I was going to get pulled right away," Szczerbiak said. "I'm the kind of player when I need to get into a rhythm and knock down a lot of shots in bunches."


Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 20 rebounds for his NBA-leading 60th double-double of the season for the Timberwolves, who snapped a two-game losing streak to remain three games behind Sacramento for the top spot in the Western Conference.

"We need all these games but it was good just to establish some flow and get out of this little funk we've been in as of late," Garnett said. "We're trying to gain some momentum."

Shawn Marion had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Joe Johnson added 18 points for the Suns, who have lost five straight home games and six of their last seven overall.

"They executed down the stretch and we had some crucial turnovers," Marion said. "We were forcing Kevin Garnett into some tough situations but the rest of the Timberwolves stepped up big tonight."

Sprewell missed his first six shots but connected on his first six second-half attempts as Minnesota rallied from a two-point halftime deficit.

"We've got so many weapons it scares us," said Sam Cassell, who had 12 points and four assists for Minnesota.

Sprewell opened the second half with a short jump shot for his first points then added a 3-pointer that broke a 43-43 tie.

The Suns rallied to take their final lead, 60-58, on Shawn Marion's dunk with 1:47 left in the third quarter, but Sprewell scored five points to key a 18-1 run that put the Timberwolves ahead 76-61 with 8:20 to go.


Sprewell finished 6-of-15 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Notes: Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said guard Troy Hudson, who played just three minutes because of a sprained right ankle, likely will not play Sunday against Denver. ... Minnesota swept the four-game season series and has won 12 of the last 16 games between the teams. ... Phoenix is 14-34 since Mike D'Antoni replaced Frank Johnson as coach on Dec. 10. The Suns have dropped 15 of their last 19 and 21 of their last 27. ... The game kicked off the two-night "Charles Barkley weekend." Barkley on Saturday will become the 10th player inducted into the Suns' Ring of Honor and also will become the eighth player to have his number retired by two teams. Friday's game featured a variety of video clips, a bobblehead giveaway and an appearance by Barkley's boyhood idol, Hall of Famer Bill Russell.



Sprewell 6-15 2-2 16, Garnett 8-17 1-4 17, Olowokandi 1-8 2-2 4, Cassell 6-15 0-0 12, Hassell 2-4 2-2 6, Madsen 3-5 0-0 6, Hudson 0-1 0-0 0, Szczerbiak 8-13 4-4 24, Hoiberg 3-4 0-0 8. Totals 37-82 11-14 93.


J.Johnson 8-19 2-4 18, Marion 8-18 3-6 21, Stoudemire 6-16 3-3 15, Barbosa 7-14 0-0 15, Jacobsen 1-6 2-2 5, Eisley 2-8 1-2 6, McDyess 0-2 0-0 0, Cabarkapa 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-84 11-17 80.

Minnesota 16 19 29 29 --; 93


; Phoenix 17 20 23 20 --; 80

; 3-Point Goals-- Minnesota 8-14 (Szczerbiak 4-5, Sprewell 2-3, Hoiberg 2-3, Garnett 0-1, Hudson 0-1, Cassell 0-1), Phoenix 5-16 (Marion 2-4, Eisley 1-2, Jacobsen 1-3, Barbosa 1-5, J.Johnson 0-2). Fouled out-- None. Rebounds-- Minnesota 59 (Garnett 20), Phoenix 47 (Marion 10). Assists-- Minnesota 21 (Garnett 6), Phoenix 17 (Marion 4). Total fouls-- Minnesota 18, Phoenix 17. Flagrant fouls-- Szczerbiak. A-- 18,422 (18,422).

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