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Late rally lifts T-wolves

Dave Campbell Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS – Sam Cassell was clutch once again, and the Minnesota Timberwolves salvaged a split at home to start their Western Conference semifinal series.

Cassell scored eight points in the final 3 minutes, Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 11 rebounds and the Timberwolves closed the game with a 16-1 run to beat the Sacramento Kings 94-89 on Saturday night.

Game 3 is Monday at raucous Arco Arena, where Minnesota was the only visitor this season to win twice. The Kings, though, have won eight of their last nine playoff games at home and are 138-26 there during the last four regular seasons.

Peja Stojakovic had 26 points and seven rebounds for Sacramento, which wasted a late 10-point lead. The Kings, after trailing the majority of the game, used a 16-2 spurt to go up 88-78 on Doug Christie’s layup with 4:11 left in the game.

Cassell, who had been quiet most of the game after scoring 40 points in a Game 1 loss, was squarely behind the rally.

His jumper in the lane with 2:08 left pulled the Wolves to 88-87. Garnett, fouled by Brad Miller on a loose-ball scramble that knocked over referee Sean Corbin, made two free throws to give Minnesota the lead with 1:45 remaining.

Christie, who had 15 points, missed a pair of foul shots on the other end, and Cassell knocked down a corner jumper with 24.6 seconds to go to make it 91-88.

Christie’s pressured 3-pointer, which would’ve tied the game, fell short from the corner with 10 seconds remaining.

Chris Webber had 21 points for the Kings and Brad Miller had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Mike Bibby, who scored 33 in Game 1, finished with 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting in Game 2 while being hounded much of the night by Latrell Sprewell.

Sprewell also contributed 15 points and Fred Hoiberg added 13. With Minnesota leading by three, Hoiberg grabbed Sprewell’s second missed foul shot with 9.1 seconds left and made two free throws of his own to seal the win.

The Kings led the league in field goal percentage this season, but their first-half shooting (34 percent) suggested otherwise. Webber was 3 for 11, Stojakovic went 3 for 10 and Bibby missed four of five.

Sacramento surged back midway through the third quarter, though, as Stojakovic started to hit. Bibby found a brief groove at the start of the fourth, and the Kings began the period with eight straight points to take their first lead since 6-4.

With Garnett on the bench, the Wolves went scoreless for the first 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth until Cassell’s jumper got them going and cut Sacramento’s advantage to 78-75 with 6:29 remaining.

Hoiberg, with 11 points, was the first-half highlight for the Timberwolves.

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