SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—When the clock malfunctioned in the final three minutes of a two-point game in a hostile environment forcing the time to be kept at Sacramento’s scorer’s table, the Minnesota Timberwolves feared the worst.
“There’s 2:52 in the game and all the sudden the clock breaks down?” Minnesota point guard Sam Cassell said with a smile. “It must be a conspiracy going on here.”
But the Timberwolves didn’t stop when the clock did, getting 11 straight points from Cassell and Kevin Garnett on their way to a 121-110 victory over the Kings on Sunday night.
“These guys grew up on the playground,” Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. “They’re used to that. If it had been a lot longer, it might have been difficult.”
What made it easier was the 11-0 run that turned a close game into an easy victory, eliminating the chance for a game-changing possession in the final seconds.
After Bobby Jackson’s three-point play cut Minnesota’s lead to 106-104 with 2:52 to play, the clock stopped working following a timeout. After a short delay while officials tried to get the clock working, the game resumed with time being kept at the scorer’s table and the PA announcer calling out the time.
“It messed with your mind,” Jackson said. “You can’t pay attention to the announcer and what he is saying. It was clock management and we didn’t have it. It’s tough not seeing the clock.”
The Kings’ frustration boiled over and at one point coach Rick Adelman was screaming out “What’s the time? What’s the time?”
The Timberwolves played it cool. With assistant Don Zierden using a stop watch on the sideline, Cassell hit a jumper right after the delay. Garnett followed with a basket after Peja Stojakovic missed a layup to make it 110-104. Cassell’s 3-pointer made it a nine-point lead and he and Garnett added two free throws each before Chris Webber stopped the run with a 3-pointer.
“Luckily it wasn’t too bad and you could hear. That was important,” Minnesota’s Wally Szczerbiak said. “It’s all behind us and hopefully we won’t have to deal with that again. Everyone stepped up and played their role and did their job.”
Garnett finished with 28 and Cassell had 25 as the Timberwolves once again felt right at home in Sacramento and snapped the Kings’ seven-game winning streak.
Webber led the Kings with 25 points, while Stojakovic and Mike Bibby added 22 apiece.
Cassell outscored Bibby 19-4 in the second half.
“When he’s going like he’s going we just sort of follow,” Garnett said about Cassell.
Reserve Eddie Griffin had 20 points, including four 3-pointers for the Timberwolves in the first meeting between the teams since Minnesota knocked out Sacramento in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs last season.
While frenzied Arco Arena is normally one of the toughest arenas for a visiting team, the Timberwolves aren’t bothered by all the noise and energy. Sacramento has lost just nine times at home the last two seasons, including the playoffs, with Minnesota responsible for four of them.
“It just came down to executing sets and making baskets,” Cassell said. “That’s what we did.”
Olowokandi, who was suspended for two games by the team after being charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing after refusing to leave an Indianapolis club, scored four points in a reserve role.
The Timberwolves went on a 10-1 run starting late in the first quarter to build a 10-point lead before Bibby led the Kings back into it. He scored 10 points in a 12-4 run and the teams stayed close the rest of the half with Christie scoring on a fast break with 1.4 seconds left to cut Minnesota’s lead to 61-60.
Referee Joey Crawford called three technical fouls in a span of 3:41 in the first quarter. … Cubs manager Dusty Baker attended the game. … Minnesota snapped Sacramento’s eight-game winning streak last season with a win at Arco Arena on Dec. 5. … Sacramento’s Brad Miller was ejected in the final minute after receiving his third technical. One was for hanging on the rim.