MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Allan Houston scored 27 points in his return to the New York lineup to lead the Knicks to a 88-79 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

Houston scored eight points down the fourth-quarter stretch, including a critical jumper with 50 seconds remaining. Houston had played in 258 consecutive games before being sidelined by a stomach virus Friday night at Chicago.

Latrell Sprewell also scored 27 for the Knicks, and Kurt Thomas added 12 points and 14 rebounds.

The Wolves were led by Wally Szczerbiak, who scored 22 points. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but his 16-game stretch of 20 points or more was snapped. Terrell Brandon had 13 points and 10 assists.

Minnesota led 19-17 in the first quarter but went the next 6 minutes, 29 seconds without a field goal. The Timberwolves never led again after being outscored 13-2 and falling behind 30-21.

But the Timberwolves pulled within 58-57 with 4:25 left in the third quarter. Sprewell took over and scored 10 points in a 12-5 run as the Knicks built their lead to 70-62.

The Knicks led 80-65 with 5:49 remaining, but the Wolves went on an 14-4 run to pull to 84-79 on a three-point play by Szczerbiak with 1:10 remaining. Houston's jumper with 50 seconds left thwarted the Wolves' rally.

The Knicks, who lead the NBA in scoring defense, held their 25th consecutive opponent under 100 points _ three games short of tying the NBA record. The Fort Wayne Pistons held 28 straight opponents under 100 during the 1954-55 season, the NBA's first using a shot clock.

Notes: The Knicks' Glen Rice did not play in the second half because of pain in his right foot. Marcus Camby missed his fourth game in a row because of a strained groin. ... The Wolves' Chauncey Billups played though a broken tooth and cut lip forced him to miss the second half of their game Thursday night against Atlanta.