Originally created 04/03/00

Phoenix edges T'Wolves



MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Johnson returned from a two-year retirement and played the entire fourth quarter Sunday as the Phoenix Suns, getting 23 points from Rodney Rogers and 22 from Penny Hardaway, rallied past Minnesota 87-86.

It was the third straight victory for the Suns, who coaxed Johnson out of retirement last week after Jason Kidd broke his ankle. Johnson scored four points with two assists, leaving the playmaking duties mainly to Hardaway.

Rogers hit two foul shots with 16.6 seconds left for the final margin as Phoenix won for the ninth time in 11 games. Hardaway also had nine assists and seven rebounds.

Malik Sealy had 19 points, Wally Szczerbiak added 18 and Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who blew a double-digit lead for the ninth time.

Entering Sunday's games, Phoenix was tied with San Antonio for fourth place in the Western Conference and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Minnesota, in sixth place, fell to four games behind the Suns.

After trailing 68-57, Phoenix opened the fourth with a 19-8 run to tie it at 76-76 with 5:16 left. Rogers hit two foul shots a minute later to give the Suns their first lead, 80-78, since they scored the first basket of the game.

After Smith scored to tie it again, Rogers hit a 3-pointer to give Phoenix an 83-80 lead with 2:55 left. But, Smith followed with a basket and two foul shots to make it 84-83.

Hardaway hit a jumper to make it 85-84 and Sealy made two foul shots with 56.7 seconds left to give Minnesota an 86-85 advantage.

Rogers was fouled in the low post with 16.6 seconds left and his two free throws made the difference. Smith's last-second jumper in the lane was too strong and Phoenix grabbed the rebound.

Szczerbiak scored 12 points in the first quarter and Sealy had 11 as Minnesota got out to a 30-17 lead. Phoenix cut into the deficit in the second period and trailed 46-37 at halftime.

Phoenix is 3-1 against Minnesota and split four games with San Antonio.