Wolves rip weary Mavericks

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Playing short-handed on the road is hard enough. Playing without your starting point guard on the tail end of a back-to-back stretch -- against a first-place team -- is a tough chore.

Dallas learned that Wednesday night when Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 121-97 win over the Mavericks, who were missing point guard Steve Nash.

Nash sat out a second straight game with a stomach virus. He's expected to rejoin the team in time for Friday's game at San Antonio, but the Mavericks could have used him against Minnesota as they lost control of a close game in the second half.

"He's the floor general out there," Mavericks forward Antawn Jamison said. "He definitely puts us on another level. He's one of the best point guards in the league."


The Timberwolves turned a five-point halftime lead into a blowout, outscoring the Mavericks 54-35 in the final two quarters. Dallas' star forward Dirk Nowitzki was scoreless after the break.

Marquis Daniels and Michael Finley each scored 16 points for Dallas, but Daniels shot 7-for-21 from the field, creating a problem that Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said Nash could have solved.

"He makes a huge difference for them," Saunders said. "What you saw was a situation where Marquis Daniels took the most shots for them -- that's not ever going to happen again, probably."

The Mavericks had been one of the league's hottest teams, winning 19 of 23 before coming to Minneapolis. But the Timberwolves were waiting, hoping to wipe away the memory of Sunday's 81-74 loss at Philadelphia.

"It was definitely a cleansing," Garnett said. "Yesterday was a very heated practice, and we got after it. That carried over to tonight."

After shooting 65.1 percent in the first half to take a 67-62 lead at the break, Minnesota took command in the third period. Latrell Sprewell made three 3-pointers and had 13 points as the Timberwolves outscored Dallas 30-16 in the quarter.

"I thought we were outplayed at halftime, and the numbers were way in their favor. But I actually felt pretty good about being down five," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "But it got away from us, and that will happen."

Dallas fell 41⁄2; games behind Minnesota in the Midwest Division and a half-game behind the second-place Spurs. The once-surging Mavericks need to recover quickly, with games at San Antonio, Houston, Sacramento and Phoenix coming up in the next 10 days.


"If we want to do big things in the playoffs, we need to get this behind us, turn the page and get ready for San Antonio," Dallas guard Josh Howard said. "We had a little glitch tonight and need to get over it."

Notes: Jamison sprained his right ankle in the third quarter and didn't return, but said after the game the injury was not serious. ... Minnesota's 67 first-half points were a season-high for any half. ... On Monday, Garnett was named NBA Western Conference player of the month for February. He became the first player to win the award three straight months. Garnett averaged 25.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.6 steals in 15 games. ... The Mavericks finished February 9-2, the best February in team history. ... Nash averaged 21.3 points in three games against the Timberwolves this season.

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