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NBA Confident Timberwolves hold off Cavs



Published: Fri, February 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



New Minnesota coach Kevin McHale earns second consecutive victory.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett glared at Drew Gooden after swatting away his layup attempt in the third quarter, then stalked the lane as if to say: "Try again, I dare you."

Thanks in large part to new coach Kevin McHale, the Minnesota Timberwolves have their swagger back.

Wally Szczerbiak scored 26 points off the bench and Garnett added 20 points, 18 rebounds and six assists to lead the Timberwolves to a 94-88 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

"We are playing with a lot more confidence," Szczerbiak said. "There's no question about that."

Led by Szczerbiak, the Timberwolves' bench players outscored Cleveland's backups 55-6, which was enough to hold off Cleveland's All-Star tandem of LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas and give McHale his second consecutive victory.

James ill

James had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but was helped to the locker room early in the fourth quarter while battling exhaustion from being ill. After getting fluids in the locker room, James returned to the court with just more than four minutes to play and had to drop to his knees in the huddle during a timeout.

James did not address the media after the game and a Cavs spokesman said he was being treated for the flu.

Jeff McInnis did his best to fill in, hitting two big jumpers off drives to the basket that gave Cleveland an 81-79 lead with 4:30 to play.

The Timberwolves responded with an 11-2 run. Garnett hit a layup and jumper, Szczerbiak added a jumper and Garnett was able to slither in for an offensive rebound off a missed free throw from Eddie Griffin that led to a 90-83 advantage with 1:27 to play.

James scored six more points after returning to the court, but Griffin sealed the victory when he took a no-look pass from Garnett and made a reverse layup with 23 seconds to go.

Ilgauskas had 24 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, McInnis had 17 points and seven assists and Gooden added 12 points and 10 boards for Cleveland.




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