Knicks fall short
L
94
98
New York @ Minnesota
94 - 98
Record: 19-50
Crawford led the Knicks with 20 points and 3 steals (AP Photo)
Crawford led the Knicks with 20 points and 3 steals (AP Photo)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - After the Minnesota Timberwolves avoided their biggest collapse in franchise history, Kevin Garnett made it clear he doesn't want to go through another season like this one.

And both Garnett and Stephon Marbury said they would be open to being reunited in the future - although neither seems to want to change cities.

"I've always said I'll be in Minnesota as long as they want me," Garnett said after scoring 26 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the Wolves' 98-94 victory over Marbury and the New York Knicks . "I don't think I can take another one of these rebuilding stages."

It's been a frustrating season for both Garnett and Marbury, who played three seasons in Minnesota together before an unhappy Marbury forced a trade in 1999. Despite the league's highest payroll, the Knicks are one of the worst teams. And the Wolves will likely miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year after playing in the Western Conference finals in 2004.

Asked if he would like to play with his former point guard, Garnett said: "I have no beef with Steph. I've never had a problem with Steph on the court. ... You ask him, 'Can you play with me?"'

Before the game, reporters asked Marbury about reuniting with Garnett.

"In New York? That'd be great," he said.

What about in Minnesota?

"Nah."

Sunday's game was a typical one for Minnesota this season, save for the victory. The Wolves led by as many as 25 points through three quarters, only to be outscored 33-18 in the fourth.

Garnett had 21 points through three quarters and, with the Wolves leading by 19 heading into the final period, looked like he might get the fourth off.

But trailing 91-77 with 5:03 to play, New York ran off a 10-0 run, bringing loud groans from the fans and bringing the Knicks bench to its feet.

"If you mess with the game, it will come around and get you in the end," Wolves coach Dwane Casey said.

Marbury's layup with 9.2 seconds to play made it 94-92. After Marcus Banks went 1-of-2 from the line, Jackie Butler hit two free throws to make it 95-94 - the closest margin since early in the first quarter.

"We could have easily given up and moved on with our lives," Jamal Crawford said. "But we wanted to continue and keep playing. ... Nobody wants to be embarrassed."

Ricky Davis then went 1-for-2 from the line for Minnesota, setting up a potential game-winning situation for New York.

But Butler had the ball knocked away from him on New York's ensuring possession and Marko Jaric sealed the win with two free throws with 1.8 seconds to play.

Minnesota's largest blown lead was 22 points against Dallas on Dec. 18, 2001.

"We should have destroyed them," Garnett said. "But (Casey) was trying to preserve us, rest us a little bit. I don't want to say it backfired on us, but they made a run."

Clearly frustrated with his team's losing season, Garnett said: "I know I don't want to go through this no more. The guys are more deserving of a better team and I think the city is more deserving of a better team."

Davis had 21 points for the Wolves, who despite their disappointing season have won six of their last seven home games. Rashad McCants added 17, Justin Reed had 13 - one point shy of his career high - and Banks 12.

Crawford led New York with 20 points. Steve Francis had 15 points, and Eddy Curry and Marbury each had 12.

"We got close, but did not get it done," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "But it was fun watching them compete and watching the younger guys."

Garnett and Marbury aren't so young anymore, though.

"We both hate losing," Garnett said. "I'm pretty sure he would like some more help."

Notes:
Maurice Taylor was called for a flagrant foul on Garnett at 9:16 of the second quarter. Taylor floored Garnett from behind on a drive to the basket. Garnett was slow to get up, but sank the ensuing free throw. ... Knicks F/G Qyntel Woods missed the game with flu-like symptoms. ... Wolves G Trenton Hassell missed the game with a sprained left knee and ankle. ... Minnesota has won eight of its past 10 games against the Knicks, who haven't won at Target Center since Nov. 26, 2003.

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