Timberwolves 86, Kings 74
Latrell Sprewell knew aggression was the answer to Minnesota's search for success.
And with Sprewell at his slashing and scoring best, the Timberwolves moved within one win of the Western Conference finals.
Sprewell had 34 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for Minnesota, which beat the Sacramento Kings, 86-74, Friday night to take a 3-2 lead in this series.
"I think our entire team was really focused," Sprewell said. "We played with a purpose."
Game 6 is Sunday in Sacramento. Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday in Minneapolis. But the Kings will have to shoot and play a lot better if they want to force a Game 7.
"We've been in this position before," said Chris Webber, who labored for 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
Brad Miller was ejected late in the third quarter without scoring, and leading scorer Peja Stojakovic disappeared once again -- going 0 for 4 in the second half and finishing with 12 points for the Kings.
Sacramento's much-celebrated offense missed two-thirds of its shots -- going 27 for 81.
"We never got on track," Coach Rick Adelman said.
Much of the credit for that goes to Minnesota. After a woeful performance in Game 4, the Wolves were aggressive and tenacious at both ends of the court.
That started with Sprewell.
"There were lanes there," he said. "I was just trying to get to get to the basket. . . . In this series, the more aggressive team -- they're getting the calls and they're getting the breaks."
Kevin Garnett, who had seven points, three rebounds and seven turnovers in the first half, wound up with 23 points and 12 rebounds. He helped hound Webber and Miller on defense, too. The pair combined for 48 points in Game 4.
Sam Cassell had only three points and seven assists for the Wolves, but Sprewell more than made up the difference.
He hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the third to give Minnesota a 10-point cushion, and his last long-range shot gave the Wolves an 84-71 lead with 1 minute 33 seconds left.
"Spree was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tonight," Garnett said. "He led the charge, and everyone else followed."