Timberwolves 109, Wizards 98
The Washington Wizards made their first national television appearance Thursday night. Fans watching the broadcast, however, likely came away reminded why Kevin Garnett is still one of the top players in the game.
Garnettsent the Wizards to their second consecutive loss by overpowering Washington with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists in a 109-98 victory.
The Wizards (5-3) fell to 2-2 on the road and dropped into a tie with the Miami Heat for first place in the Southeast Division. A stretch that includes 11 of 17 games on the road continues Saturday night in New Jersey against the 4-4 Nets, a team that could be battling the Wizards for playoff positioning come spring.
Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 33 points and five assists. Caron Butler came off the bench to score 15 points and grab eight rebounds but the Wizards could not match the offensive balance of the Timberwolves, who shot 53.5 percent and had six players score in double digits. Minnesota outrebounded the Wizards 45-31 and became the third team to score more than 100 points against Washington. The Wizards have lost all three of those games.
The Wizards had no answer for Garnett, who matched his shooting touch (12 of 19) with deft passing, often finding reserve guard Richie Frahm, who made four three pointers (three in the fourth quarter).
"It's the second night, in my mind, that a great player just took over the game," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said, referring to a loss at Cleveland on Tuesday night, when the Cavaliers' LeBron James scored 37. "Tonight, Garnett had an X-factor who played off him in Richie coming off the bench and making some big shots. There are eight, maybe 10 players like that in the league -- we have one of them [Arenas] -- and he carried us over the weekend. We just got payback."
Frahm's three-pointer from the corner gave Minnesota a 93-83 lead with 6 minutes 7 seconds left. Arenas responded with a layup but Garnett answered by making a turnaround jumper over Butler. Butler scored on back-to-back layups, trimming Minnesota's lead to 97-89 but Frahm (16 points, 6-of-7 shooting) hit another three-pointer, pushing the Timberwolves' lead back to 100-89. The Wizards never seriously threatened again.
"That's the kind of player he is," Arenas said of Garnett. "If you look at his career, he dominates the first three quarters and then in the fourth quarter, when you pay too much attention to him, he just finds everybody else. That's why he's one of the best in the world. He's a great player."
And a frustrated one. During a pregame interview on TNT, Garnett questioned the team's decision to trade point guard Sam Cassell to the Los Angeles Clippers, was critical of vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale and said that without last's season's turmoil, current Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders could still be on the sideline for the Timberwolves.
"I don't think I said anything out of line," Garnett said. "I'm definitely not T.O. here. Last year was a circus. It was pure hell for me. A lot of the things that were going on, no one was looking at themselves in the mirror and taking responsibility for themselves. That was the point I was trying to make."
Wizards Note: Antawn Jamison, who scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds, left the game late in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a turned ankle. Jordan described Jamison as "sore" adding, "We'll see how he is tomorrow."