Timberwolves 77, Jazz 66

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Kevin Garnett’s second trip to Utah this season went better than the first in just about every way.

Garnett got his 14th straight double-double, the Timberwolves finally beat the Jazz and the All-Star forward was around to see the end of it this time in Minnesota’s 77-66 win Wednesday night.

The Timberwolves enter the All-Star break 37-15, one game behind Sacramento for best in the Western Conference.

“We thought it was very important to not only end the break off right, but to beat these guys,” said Garnett, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds for his NBA-best 46th double-double.

Garnett was back in Utah for the first time since he was kicked out of a game Nov. 3 for getting two quick technicals, then throwing the ball into the stands.

For the most part, Garnett kept his composure Wednesday when tempers heated up late in the third quarter, and he might have kept teammate Sam Cassell from getting tossed. Cassell already had one technical and appeared to be headed for a second, but the technical ended up being called on Garnett.

“We all lean on one another for help, for guidance and leadership. Certain times when I lose it they got me. Tonight, I took that role,” Garnett said. “I set him aside, then had to compose myself a little bit.”

Garnett pushed getting a second technical when he followed referee Derrick Collins around, shouting, “What did I say?”

Cassell, the veteran point guard who will be making his All-Star debut this weekend, finished with 24 points and seven assists. He was restrained by several teammates when he charged the court after thinking he drew his second technical.

“Once it happened, it was over with. We just regrouped. We understand what we’ve got to do to be successful,” Cassell said.

The Timberwolves had been 0-2 against Utah this season, but got their first win against the Jazz with a dominant second half. Fred Hoiberg scored all of his points in a 10-4 run as the Timberwolves pulled away in the fourth quarter. Latrell Sprewell scored 11 of his 13 in the final two periods.

“Every time they made a bucket, we just put our heads down. When we did that we made it easy for them,” said DeShawn Stevenson, who scored 11 for Utah.

Andrei Kirilenko had 21 points, nine rebounds and five blocks to lead the Jazz, who enter the break 26-27.

Carlos Arroyo added 13 points for Utah before being kicked out after exchanging words with Garnett. Arroyo, Garnett and Cassell were all shouting before the teams separated after a whistle with 2:34 left in the third, and a double-technical was quickly called. Arroyo, who got his first technical in the second quarter for complaining about a call, was immediately ejected.

“I wanted to be out there. I disappointed my teammates and disappointed myself,” Arroyo said. “I was kicking my head here in the locker room watching the game.”

After the technicals, tempers cooled and the Timberwolves took a 56-51 lead into the final quarter.

Darrick Martin opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, and after the Jazz cut the lead to 59-55, Hoiberg scored 10 straight points to put the Wolves in control for good. Kirilenko’s four-point play with 7:54 left was Utah’s only scoring during Hoiberg’s run. It cut the lead to 64-59, but Hoiberg answered with a quick 3-pointer.

Both teams were upset with the calls all night, and after the final buzzer, Utah’s Raja Bell stared down referee Bob Delaney and shouted a few thingsbefore trainer Gary Briggs led him toward the locker room.

Notes

The Timberwolves missed seven of their first nine shots. … Minnesota’s Troy Hudson did not make the trip because of a sprained right ankle. He has missed eight straight games. … The Jazz bench scored just 16points.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Minnesota
S. Cassell S. Cassell
7-15,  24 Pts
6 Rebs, 7 Assists
 Utah
A. Kirilenko A. Kirilenko
7-16,  21 Pts
9 Rebs, 0 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists