'Wolves' start puts Wizards on road to loss

Minnesota goes 15-for-16 in 1st 10 minutes, hands Washington 110-91 defeat

Pro Basketball

December 13, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - For those who operate under the misconception that the last two minutes of an NBA game are the only ones that matter, check with the Washington Wizards after last night's 110-91 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wizards played well in fits and starts, stringing together a few good minutes here and there over the game's final 38 minutes.

But it was the first 10 minutes that spelled disaster for Washington as Minnesota shot an otherworldly 15-for-16 to start the game, getting the Wizards into a 17-point hole and on the way to their third straight loss.

"I told the team that I read somewhere that you have to experience 15 minutes of hell before you can enjoy heaven," said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. "If we're not there, we're close to it. It's a process of keeping everybody positive and working hard."

Washington made runs here and there, taking a brief lead on a couple of occasions, but the Timberwolves (13-9) clinched the deal in the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run midway through the period after the Wizards (7-15) had trimmed Minnesota's lead to five with 8:30 to go.

And as if to bookend their first-quarter shooting, the Timberwolves hit nine of their last 12 shots of the game, shooting 56 percent from the field on the night.

"We're upset and a little frustrated," said guard Larry Hughes, who led the Wizards with 16 points. "We want to win every night and we're not getting it done, basically. That's pretty much what it comes down to."

The loss - the seventh in the past eight games and the 13th in the past 17 for Washington - spoiled the return from the injury list of point guard Gilbert Arenas.

Arenas, the team's leading scorer, missed eight games with a severe abdominal strain and looked rusty, going 3-for-9 for nine points in 24 minutes.

"It was a little struggle out there once I sat down. I couldn't do everything I want to do. But I got to see where I was at, healthy-wise and the way my mobility was," said Arenas, who said he was playing at about 60 percent of effectiveness.

"I didn't want to come back three weeks from now and be in the same kind of pain. It's getting better, so that's all I'm happy for."

Kevin Garnett had 23 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, while Sam Cassell (Dunbar) led all scorers with 25 points. Latrell Sprewell had 21 points for Minnesota. Juan Dixon had 11 points off the bench for Washington, and his former Maryland teammate Steve Blake chipped in nine and had four assists.

The Timberwolves didn't miss their second shot of the game until Garnett was short with a 20-footer with two minutes to go in the first quarter. In all, Minnesota shot 77 percent in the period and torched the Wizards for a season high in any quarter this year, leading 39-23.

"They got us scrambling, so they were taking open shots," said Hughes. "They weren't taking shots with a hand in their face. They got us scrambling early on and were kicking to the open guy and making shots."

Surprisingly, the Wizards opened the second quarter with a 21-4 run to take a brief one-point lead, but were unable to sustain the comeback.

"They come in here, they know we're down and they taste blood," said Jordan. "Wins are hard to come by and they're ready to go. They just want to put us out. They didn't put us out. We came back and gave them a game. One day, we're going to be good, real good. That's what we have to keep saying to ourselves."

Next for Wizards

Opponent:New York Knicks

Site:Madison Square Garden, New York

When:Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio:CN8, Ch. 50/WTNT (570 AM)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.