MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Sam Cassell is still aggravating the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cassell shook off flu-like symptoms to hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch, staving off a furious rally by his former team and lifting the Los Angeles Clippers to a 93-84 victory Tuesday night.

The Clippers led by 16 points with 10 minutes to play in the game before Kevin Garnett and the Wolves responded with a 14-0 rally.

Garnett’s whirling baseline jumper over Chris Kaman pulled the Timberwolves within 78-76 with 5:30 remaining.

The Timberwolves twice cut the gap to two points again down the stretch before Cassell hit his 3-pointer from the left elbow with 2:45 to play, giving the Clippers a five-point lead that was too much for Minnesota to overcome.

Corey Maggette led the way with 30 points and 10 rebounds and Elton Brand added 19 points and 13 boards for the Clippers (10-4), who are guaranteed of having the best November in franchise history with one game left in the month.

Garnett had 29 points and 13 rebounds and conducted a clinic in low post moves against second-year pro Kaman, but Garnett’s old teammate made sure it wasn’t enough.

Cassell, who missed the morning shootaround and did not start the game because he was ill, added one of his patented turnaround jumpers to make the score 89-82 with 45 seconds to play and help the Clippers snap a two-game skid.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Wolves, who traded Cassell to the Clippers in the offseason for Marko Jaric after tiring of his poor attitude.

Cassell sat out the first day of training camp last season, unhappy that he didn’t get a contract extension after helping the Timberwolves advance to the Western Conference finals in 2004.

That was the precursor to a monumentally disappointing season for the Timberwolves, who failed to make the playoffs while dealing with bickering from Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, who was also unhappy with his contract status.

Cassell sure seems happy in Los Angeles. He smiled often on Tuesday night and even playfully jumped on Cuttino Mobley’s back at halfcourt in the third quarter while the Timberwolves were shooting free throws.

He had good reason to smile after having 13 points and six assists against his former team to keep the Clippers in first place in the Pacific Division.

For the most part, the Timberwolves have been better off without him, too.

They entered the night having won two in a row and four of their last five to move into first place in the Northwest Division.

But Garnett didn’t get enough help on this night.

Wally Szczerbiak was just 3-for-9 from the floor for nine points and Troy Hudson scored three points on 1-of-7 shooting. The Timberwolves shot 39 percent from the field against the NBA’s best field goal percentage defense.

Jaric shook off a stiff neck to score 17 points, but the Wolves couldn’t come up with the big shot down the stretch when they needed it.

Notes: Jaric started despite experiencing neck pain and seeing a chiropractor earlier in the day. Coach Dwane Casey considered deactivating him before the game, but Jaric felt good enough to play. … Garnett received a technical foul in the third quarter for hanging on the rim after an emphatic dunk over Kaman.

AP-ES-11-29-05 2234EST


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