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Wolves finish off pesky Kings

Associated Press
Published May 20, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS - Kevin Garnett validated his MVP award and put the Timberwolves into the West final.

Garnett had 32 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks on his 28th birthday, and the Timberwolves held on to beat the Kings 83-80 Wednesday in Game 7 of their semifinal series.

The victory was not assured until Chris Webber's 3-pointer went in and out at the final buzzer, giving Sacramento a Game 7 playoff loss a third straight year. Minnesota hosts the Lakers, who have been idle since Saturday, on Friday night.

With the Timberwolves clinging to a three-point lead, the Kings had a final possession to tie. Doug Christie's off-balance 3-pointer was an airball, and Brad Miller's layup attempt off the rebound was blocked by Garnett into the seats near Sacramento co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof.

The Kings got another inbound pass with 2.2 seconds left. Garnett guarded Webber, then avoided fouling him as Webber shot.

"I thought it was going down," Kings coach Rick Adelman said.

Webber, who had 16 points, collapsed to his knees after Sacramento failed again, just as the Kings did against the Lakers in 2002 and last year against Dallas.

"It feels great to win, especially on my birthday," said Garnett, who hugged Webber before saluting the overflow sellout crowd of 19,944.

Christie had 21 points for Sacramento, which trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. Mike Bibby added 15 points and Miller had 11. Sam Cassell returned to form with 23 points and seven assists for Minnesota, Latrell Sprewell added 14 and Wally Szczerbiak had 10 off the bench.

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