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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- MINNESOTA 35 30 19 22 106 HOUSTON 25 19 23 31 98 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: MIN - KEVIN GARNETT 28, TERRELL BRANDON 22, RADOSLAV NESTEROVIC 16 HOU - CUTTINO MOBLEY 33, MAURICE TAYLOR 17, STEVE FRANCIS 15

HIGH REBOUND: MIN - RADOSLAV NESTEROVIC 13, KEVIN GARNETT 11 HOU - WALT WILLIAMS 8, HAKEEM OLAJUWON 6

HIGH ASSISTS: MIN - TERRELL BRANDON 9, THREE PLAYERS WITH 5 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 8, TWO PLAYERS WITH 3

ATT: 11,327


Extended Box

MINNESOTA (106) AT HOUSTON (98)

MINNESOTA REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

K GARNETT F 37 12-27 4-5 2 9 11 5 3 1 3 28 SZCZERBIAK F 23 2-8 0-0 2 2 4 5 3 0 2 4 NESTEROVIC C 35 8-11 0-0 6 7 13 0 4 0 2 16 BILLUPS G 37 6-13 0-0 0 2 2 5 4 0 3 15 BRANDON G 38 6-12 8-9 0 4 4 9 5 3 3 22 MITCHELL 9 1-2 2-2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 PEELER 34 2-5 0-0 1 7 8 4 3 1 0 5 D GARRETT 11 3-5 0-0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 6 ELLIS 15 3-5 0-0 1 0 1 1 2 0 2 6 JACOBSON 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 AVERY DNP - COACH'S DECISION SLATER DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 43-88 14-16 13 31 44 29 25 7 15 106 (.489) (.875) TEAM REBS: 5 TOTAL TO: 16(20 PTS)

HOUSTON REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

TAYLOR F 37 8-10 1-2 1 3 4 1 4 0 4 17 WILLIAMS F 25 2-7 4-5 1 7 8 3 0 1 1 8 OLAJUWON C 18 2-4 0-2 0 6 6 1 0 1 1 4 ANDERSON G 20 1-2 1-2 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 3 FRANCIS G 41 4-15 7-8 4 1 5 8 3 3 6 15 CATO 22 4-5 1-2 2 1 3 0 4 0 0 9 MOBLEY 32 10-22 11-11 1 4 5 1 1 3 2 33 BULLARD 8 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 NORRIS 26 3-8 2-6 2 3 5 3 3 1 2 8 ROGERS 8 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 COLLIER 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 THOMAS DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 34-74 28-40 11 27 38 18 17 9 18 98 (.459) (.700) TEAM REBS: 12 TOTAL TO: 18(22 PTS)

MINNESOTA 35 30 19 22 - 106 HOUSTON 25 19 23 31 - 98

BLOCKED SHOTS: MINNESOTA - K GARNETT. HOUSTON - WILLIAMS 3, MOBLEY 2, TAYLOR, CATO. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: MINNESOTA 6-11 (.545), K GARNETT 0-2, BILLUPS 3-5, BRANDON 2-2, PEELER 1-2. HOUSTON 2-9 (.222), FRANCIS 0-1, MOBLEY 2-5, BULLARD 0-1, NORRIS 0-2. TECHNICALS: MINNESOTA - ILLEGAL DEFENSE 4, K GARNETT, HOUSTON - FRANCIS, ILLEGAL DEFENSE 4. OFFICIALS: STEVE JAVIE, LUIS GRILLO, BENNIE ADAMS. A - 11,327. T - 2:19.


Box Score

MINNESOTA (106) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp K Garnett 37 12-27 4-5 2-11 5 3 28 Szczerbiak 23 2-8 0-0 2-4 5 3 4 Nesterovic 35 8-11 0-0 6-13 0 4 16 Billups 37 6-13 0-0 0-2 5 4 15 Brandon 38 6-12 8-9 0-4 9 5 22 Mitchell 9 1-2 2-2 0-0 0 0 4 Peeler 34 2-5 0-0 1-8 4 3 5 D Garrett 11 3-5 0-0 1-1 0 1 6 Ellis 15 3-5 0-0 1-1 1 2 6 Jacobson 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Avery DNP - coach's decision Slater DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 43-88 14-16 13-44 29 25 106 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.489, FT-.875. 3-Point Goals: 6-11, .545 (K Garnett 0-2, Billups 3-5, Brandon 2-2, Peeler 1-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1 (K Garnett). Turnovers: 16 (Billups 3, Brandon 3, K Garnett 3, Ellis 2, Nesterovic 2, Szczerbiak 2). Steals: 7 (Brandon 3, D Garrett, K Garnett, Mitchell, Peeler).

HOUSTON (98) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Taylor 37 8-10 1-2 1-4 1 4 17 Williams 25 2-7 4-5 1-8 3 0 8 Olajuwon 18 2-4 0-2 0-6 1 0 4 Anderson 20 1-2 1-2 0-1 1 1 3 Francis 41 4-15 7-8 4-5 8 3 15 Cato 22 4-5 1-2 2-3 0 4 9 Mobley 32 10-22 11-11 1-5 1 1 33 Bullard 8 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 Norris 26 3-8 2-6 2-5 3 3 8 Rogers 8 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 Collier 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Thomas DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 34-74 28-40 11-38 18 17 98 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.459, FT-.700. 3-Point Goals: 2-9, .222 (Francis 0-1, Mobley 2-5, Bullard 0-1, Norris 0-2). Team rebounds: 12. Blocked shots: 7 (Williams 3, Mobley 2, Taylor, Cato). Turnovers: 18 (Francis 6, Taylor 4, Mobley 2, Norris 2, Bullard, Collier, Olajuwon, Williams). Steals: 9 (Francis 3, Mobley 3, Norris, Olajuwon, Williams). ____________________________________________ Minnesota 35 30 19 22 - 106 Houston 25 19 23 31 - 98 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Minnesota 5 (Illegal Defense 4, 7:23 1st, 7:45 2nd, 4:04 3rd, 8:35 4th; K Garnett, 5:38 4th). Houston 5 (Francis, 6:37 1st; Illegal Defense 4, 0:52 2nd, 7:06 3rd, 5:48 4th, 3:51 4th). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 11,327. T: 2:19. Officials: Steve Javie, Luis Grillo, Bennie Adams.


Game Story

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- No Joe Smith? No problem.

With Smith's contract status still unresolved, Kevin Garnett, Terrell Brandon and Rasho Nesterovic all were at the top of their game and the Minnesota Timberwolves broke out early and rolled to a 106-98 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Garnett scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Brandon contributed 22 and nine assists and Nesterovic added 16 and 13 boards for the Timberwolves, who led by as much as 26 points before the Rockets made a run in the fourth quarter.

"We're playing with a strong unit that can be stronger," Garnett said. "With the Joe Smith situation up in the air, we have to play more like a team. We don't care what the media thinks. We've got to be focused every night."

The Timberwolves did not have Smith, their starting forward last season, because he was signed to a contract that an independent arbitrator ruled was in violation of the salary cap.

As punishment, NBA commissioner David Stern voided the contract, fined the Timberwolves $3.5 million and took away five future first-round picks. Smith was granted free agency and although Minnesota still has hopes of signing him, it will have a huge hole up front if he goes somewhere else.

An arbitrator is to decide Thursday whether the penalties already handed down by the league include reneging Smith's "Larry Bird" rights, in which case he is expected to sign with another team. However, he has indicated he would remain with the Timberwolves if the arbitrator rules in favor of the team.

"The way the reports had been ... it sounded like we were going to go 0-82 with the death penalty and all of that," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "It was good to come out and play.

"I don't think the guys have thought all that much about it. We're going to be pretty good if we continue to play as a team, like we did tonight."

Chauncy Billups contributed 15 points and five assists and Wally Szczerbiak, who moved into Smith's spot in the starting lineup, added five assists, though he scored just four points. Brandon also had three steals.

"The whole team was ready to play tonight," Brandon said. "We were tired of the preseason. We executed great early and built up the big lead. It was like a park game in the second half and they made their run to get back in it, but we kept our composure. We went to Garnett and hit our free throws down the stretch."

Houston's Cuttino Mobley scored 33 points, two off his career high. Free agent signee Maurice Taylor added 17 and Steve Francis 15 for the Rockets.

Brandon and Chauncey Billups sparked a game-opening 14-4 run and the Timberwolves led the whole game.

Minnesota really took over in the second quarter. Billups hit a 3-pointer and Nesterovic nailed back-to-back jumpers, igniting an 18-4 run. Garnett's jumper with 2:02 left in the half seemed to spell an early end for the Rockets, putting them down, 58-37.

"Our youth showed up early," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We were really excited and made some bad decisions. We dug ourselves a deep hole and could not get out. We gave ourselves a shot but they kept making big plays."

Houston fought back in the fourth quarter by scrambling and pressing and was able to get within 99-91 with three minutes left.

Mobley and Kelvin Cato provided the spark in the fourth for the Rockets. Mobley scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the fourth quarter and Cato scored all nine of his points in the final 12 minutes.

But Garnett took over down the stretch at both ends.

He hit a 15-foot jumper that gave the Timberwolves a 101-91 lead and answered Mobley's 3-pointer with a hook shot that made it 103-94 with 1:45 left. He later forced a turnover, blocked a shot and grabbed a pair of rebounds.

"KG was KG. He can beat you a lot of ways," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "He's got great ball skills and makes good decisions. He made the big shots for us tonight."

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