Timberwolves 101, Wizards 89
The Minnesota Timberwolves of the future took advantage of some Timberwolves of the past to reach a high point in the present.
Corey Brewer scored 23 of his career-high 27 points in the second half to lead the Timberwolves to a 101-89 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, giving the young and rebuilding Wolves back-to-back wins for the first time in what has already been a trying season.
``I feel like we are a young team and we are just getting better game-by-game and hopefully we can keep it up all season,'' Brewer said.
Kevin Love added 17 points and 10 rebounds and the Timberwolves overcame 37 percent shooting by pummeling the Wizards 56-45 on the glass and 22-7 in second-chance points.
``This is terrible. We feel as though we're much better than this,'' said guard Randy Foye, one of seven Wizards players and coaches with significant ties to the Timberwolves organization. ``Not to take anything away from the Timberwolves, but we felt as though they're a young team and they're growing.''
Wizards coach Flip Saunders coached in Minnesota from 1995-2005, going 411-326 and leading the Wolves to eight playoff appearances. He was fired in 2005, less than a year after taking the Wolves to the Western Conference finals.
Saunders was hired by the Wizards this offseason and he assembled a staff that includes former Wolves head coach Randy Wittman, former longtime Wolves assistant Don Zierden and former Wolves point guard Sam Cassell.
On the roster, the Wizards have guards Mike James and Randy Foye and swingman Mike Miller, all of whom played in Minnesota.
``We can call them the worst team in the West, but it's not like we've got that many wins over them,'' Gilbert Arenas said of the Wizards, who are 10-18 and in last place in the Southeast Division. ``Right now we are one of the worst teams in the East until we can prove ourselves. Right now, we win two, we lose four.''
Timberwolves West 1, Timberwolves East 0.
As he watched his Wizards settle for jumpshot after jumpshot and get beat 19-7 in offensive rebounds, Saunders repeatedly made dismissive gestures toward the court.
``I was frustrated,'' Saunders said. ``It's like I told our players, as coaches, I'm not going to change what we do, a coverage defensively or something, just because we don't do it hard or do it right. When you don't do it hard or do it right, no matter what you do, it's not going to work.''
Arenas had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. But he made just 10 of 28 shots and committed seven turnovers.
With rookie point guard Jonny Flynn struggling from the field, Ramon Sessions had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in relief for the Timberwolves, providing a huge lift off the bench for a team that lost 17 of its first 19 games.
The Wolves beat New Jersey on Wednesday and now are 4-3 in their last seven games, the first tangible signs of progress this year.
Arenas was questionable heading into this game after a scary collision against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. He crashed into Ersan Ilyasova on a drive to the basket and left the game clutching his left knee, which has had three surgeries in the last 18 months that limited him to 15 total games in the past two seasons.
He started slowly on Saturday, going 2 for 7 in the first quarter. But he scored 12 points in the third quarter before shooting the Wizards right out of the game in the fourth.
Arenas was 1 for 8 in the final period and committed two careless turnovers that helped Minnesota take control.
``We've got one of them teams right now that when we get down, we feel like we have to take it on our shoulders,'' Arenas said. ``I'm the main culprit of that. When we get down, I feel, you know, that I have to give us that spark to get back and it just didn't work.''
Ryan Hollins started a 9-0 run with a thunderous dunk over the 6-foot-11 Andray Blatche that got the young Wolves revved up. Sessions capped the spurt after Arenas dribbled the ball off his foot, going baseline with a nifty reverse layup for a 79-71 lead with 6:21 to go.
Antawn Jamison scored 20 and Foye added 16 while already looking forward to a Feb. 17 rematch in Washington.
``We're going to get them back,'' Foye said. ``We play them after the All-Star break. We'll get them back pretty good when they come to Washington.''
NOTES: Timberwolves F Ryan Gomes played for the first time in seven games because of a sprained left ankle. He had five points in 16 minutes. ... Miller has missed 16 straight games with a strained right calf. ... The Timberwolves were supposed to wear blue throwback uniforms from their inaugural season in 1989, but the Wizards did not bring their white uniforms with them to Minneapolis. So the Wolves wore their current home white digs.