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Minnesota hits 17 of first 22 shots

12/12/2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When an early 19-point lead evaporated, the
Minnesota Timberwolves turned to their potent inside game.

Sam Cassell scored 25 points, Kevin Garnett had 23 points and 16
rebounds and the Timberwolves made 17 of their first 22 shots in a
110-91 victory Friday night over the Washington Wizards.

"We haven't had a blowout in a while. ... What's important is
that we're playing well, playing together," Garnett said.
"Continuity is coming together. Chemistry is being formed."

It was the fourth straight road victory for Minnesota, which got
21 points from Latrell Sprewell and a season-high 16 from Gary
Trent.

"It's tougher to win on the road, so maybe you have a little
bit better concentration," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said.
"When we do get back home, we have to take care of things. We'll
start playing better at home."

The Timberwolves, who outscored the Wizards 50-34 in the paint,
have beaten Washington five straight times.

Larry Hughes led the Wizards with 16 and Christian Laettner
added 14. Washington has dropped three straight and seven of eight.

Gilbert Arenas, whose average of 20.8 points led the Wizards
before he suffered a severely strained abdominal muscle Nov. 25,
was activated from the injured list before the game. He finished
with nine points.

"It was a little bit sore out there, especially after I sat
down," admitted Arenas. "I couldn't do everything I wanted to
do."

Washington got within 84-81 on Laettner's basket early in the
fourth quarter before the Timberwolves pulled away with a 14-2 run.

"We kept it a two-possession, three-possession game," Hughes
said. "After that, we didn't make shots, they got a couple of easy
layups and we tried to scramble the game up a little bit, but it
worked against us."

Minnesota scored 39 points in the first 12 minutes for its most
productive quarter of the season. The Timberwolves hit 12 straight
from the field during a 15-of-16 stretch in their opening-period
binge.

"It was almost too good," Saunders said. "We were relying too
much on the perimeter."

The Timberwolves let an early 19-point lead slip away before
going ahead 57-53 at halftime.

"We could have been more intense and into it, a little more
aggressive defensively," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "But
they were pushing the ball."

Minnesota turned two rebounds by Garnett into consecutive
baskets by Sprewell and Cassell for a 67-61 lead with 7:05 left in
the third. Consecutive layups by Trent made it 78-68 with 2:44 to
go in the period.

Game notes
Timberwolves C Michael Olowokandi underwent right knee
surgery Friday in Vail, Colo., and will miss 6-to-8 weeks. ... To
make room on the roster for Arenas, Washington placed G Mitchell
Butler on the injured list with right knee tendinitis. ...
Minnesota F Mark Madsen missed the game with back spasms. ... G
Trent Hassell had season highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds for the
Timberwolves.