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Szczerbiak leads four in double figures

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves rebounded from
their worst game of the season with one of their best.

Wally Szczerbiak's 23 points led four starters in double figures
as Minnesota routed the Washington Wizards 109-74 Sunday.

"I was just going to the basket and they were letting me go,"
Szczberiak said.

Sam Cassell added 22 points, Kevin Garnett 18 and Latrell
Sprewell 11 for Minnesota, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
The Timberwolves (16-10) have beaten the Wizards seven straight
times.

Gilbert Arenas scored 21 points to lead Washington (14-11),
which wrapped up a five-game road trip with its worst loss of the
season, eclipsing a 105-74 setback at Cleveland Nov. 13. Larry
Hughes added 13 for the Wizards.

Coach Flip Saunders was impressed with Minnesota's all-around
performance, three days removed from their worst loss of the season
-- a 96-82 defeat at San Antonio.

"Defensively we were more solid and we did more positive things
and eventually it became contagious," Saunders said. "When you
get 13 steals and 16 offensive rebounds, that really shows your
team aggressiveness. Offensively, when we play the right way,
everybody gets involved."

Timberwolves players were more pleased with their defensive
effort. Washington shot just 38.7 percent and committed 20
turnovers -- its third straight game with at least that many.

"This is something that we need to look at and see why we were
successful," Fred Hoiberg said. "All five guys were in the lane
when someone was penetrating. Guys were there to help out and make
them kick out the shot and then get a hand up on the perimeter."

"Offense comes and goes," Sprewell said. "But if you're
consistent on defense you always have a shot to win night in and
night out."

It also helps when you commit just seven turnovers -- a season
low for Minnesota. Washington leads the league at forcing turnovers
(17.7).

Washington forward Antawn Jamison expressed concern after the
Wizards lost for the fourth time in six games. He finished with
eight points, nearly 14 below his season average.

"We've been taking a lot of steps backwards lately," Jamison
said. "We need to collect ourselves and get back to the style of
basketball we are used to. We've let some good opportunities
slip."

Garnett scored nine of his points in the third quarter,
including an alley-oop from Anthony Carter, as Minnesota built a
19-point lead. He added 12 rebounds and eight assists -- the 14th
time he's led Minnesota in all three categories.

"KG's a guy that's hard to prepare for," Washington coach
Eddie Jordan. "He's one of about five guys in the league like
that. He can do it for himself and what's more important is he
helps his teammates get better."

Szczberiak, Hoiberg and Cassell each scored during an 8-2 spurt
in the first to put the Wolves up 21-14.

A tip-in and a dunk by Eddie Griffin, followed by Troy Hudson's
jumper gave Minnesota a 36-23 lead midway through the second
quarter and Szczberiak added a 3-pointer just before the half for a
47-36 lead at the break.

Hughes pulled the Wizards within 10 points with a layup 4
minutes into the third quarter. Minnesota responded by outscoring
the Wizards 12-5, including six points from Sprewell, over the next
three minutes to push the lead back to 65-48.

Minnesota, which entered the game 26th in the league in free
throw attempts, had none in the first half, but finished
21-for-22.

Game notes
The winning margin tied the Minnesota's Dec. 8 victory at
Philadelphia, and tied for the team's third largest all-time. The
Timberwolves' record is a 127-74 win over Chicago Nov. 8, 2001. ...
Washington placed guard Laron Profit on the injured list night with
a strained left foot and activated guard Steve Blake. ... Hoiberg,
who leads the league in 3-point accuracy at 57.4 percent, finished
1-for-5. As a team Minnesota was 4-for-16, while Washington was
4-for-17. ... The game concluded a 13-game stretch in which the
Timberwolves faced 10 non-playoff teams from last season. They went
8-5.