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Harpring leads Utah in scoring once again

SHARE Harpring leads Utah in scoring once again

MINNEAPOLIS — After scoring 25 points Friday's 94-80 win at Minnesota and 28 in Monday's overtime win over Chicago, Matt Harpring has led all Utah scorers for two straight games.

Friday, Ricky Davis of the Timberwolves — acquired recently in a seven-player trade with Boston — had kind words for Harpring.

"He's like a 3-4 slash guy," Davis said after shooting 7-of-22, "so it's tough to play him in the post and get down and dirty with him.

"You just have to man up, and go at it."

HUH? The Timberwolves spent much of Friday's loss whining about the refereeing. That includes 'Wolves All-Star Kevin Garnett, who wound up with one of Minnesota's two technical fouls.

"I felt like we were just getting a little frustrated with the fact that they (the Jazz) were more a lot more aggressive than us," Garnett said. "Then when we did get aggressive we were getting called for fouls, and I think that made us a little more stagnant.

"In the second half, we picked the intensity up a little bit, tried to get a lot more physical, and they (the refs) let some things go. But still, I think the refs' calls and inconsistency made us stagnant.

"We can't blame the refs for anything, because we gotta go out and make plays — but when you're trying to play physical and be brute for brute, so to speak, you gotta be as physical as they are. But you feel like every time you get strong with somebody a call's going to get called on you."

Minnesota, 1-5 in it last six games, was called for 30 personal fouls. Utah, which has won two straight, was tagged with just 17.

TRADE TALK: According to columnist Sid Hartman in Friday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Timberwolves "still are trying to make a deal for a big man who can help Kevin Garnett rebound inside. Guard Marko Jaric could be part of a deal."

Jaric came close to signing with the Jazz as a free agent last summer, but opted instead for Minnesota.

After getting pulled from the starting lineup and not playing in the Timbewolves' two games prior to Friday, he went scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting in seven bench minutes against the Jazz.

Jaric also was on the floor most of the time Utah was making its 11-0 run in Friday's third quarter, a decisive few minutes from which Minnesota never did recover.

HUDSON OUT: Ex-Jazz guard Troy Hudson of Minnesota missed his fourth straight game with a sore right ankle.

According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Hudson, "in a worst-case scenario, could require additional surgery (on the ankle), threatening his availability for the rest of this season the way the initial injury and surgery wiped out the end of 2003-04."

Hudson, bothered by scar tissue, reportedly will visit his original surgeon next week to decide on a course of action. Surgery will be performed only if alternate treatment does not help.

Meanwhile, Minnesota shooting guard Richie Frahm returned Friday after missing eight games with a toe injury.

Also, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg, rehabilitating from open heart surgery last June, said earlier this week that "he's still not leaning either way regarding a possible return to the playing court after next week's NBA All-Star break."

Hoiberg, diagnosed last year with an enlarged aortic root, has a pacemaker.

MISC.: Jazz rookie backup point guard Deron Williams returned Friday after missing one game with a sprained left ankle and finished with five points and two assists in 25 minutes. . . . Mehmet Okur's 19 points and 10 rebounds marked his team-leading 20th double-double of the season. Andrei Kirilenko has 20 . . . Minnesota native Kris Humphries dressed but did not play for the Jazz . . . As expected, Gordan Giricek (Achilles tendinitis), Rob Whaley (arthroscopic knee surgery) and Andre Owens (tibia stress fracture) — all out indefinitely — were on Utah's inactive list . . . With Milt Palacio starting in Giricek's shooting-guard spot, the Jazz have used the same opening lineup each of the past five games.

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com