<
>

Garnett, Timberwolves stave off Wizards comeback

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett's play drew nearly as much
attention as his pregame criticism of Minnesota Timberwolves vice
president Kevin McHale.

Garnett had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lead
Minnesota to a 109-98 victory over the Washington Wizards on
Thursday night.

"He dominates in the first three quarters and in the fourth
quarter, everybody pays attention to him and he finds everybody
else," Gilbert Arenas said. "That's why he's No. 1 in the
world."

Wally Szczerbiak scored 17 points, and Richie Frahm and Troy
Hudson added 16.

"It took a little load off me," said Garnett, of his
teammates' scoring.

Garnett then handled questions about his pregame comment on TNT
that last year McHale, "wanted in his heart to coach, but he
didn't want the responsibility of being a coach."

McHale took over for the fired Flip Saunders halfway through a
disappointing season, filled with player bickering and lackluster
performances.

"Kevin has a very, very high basketball IQ," Garnett said
after the game. "But managing egos and things, I don't think he
wants to do that."

McHale said he knows Garnett was frustrated with last season, in
which the Wolves failed to make the playoffs for the first time in
eight seasons.

"I hope he wants to be here," McHale said after the game.
"There's a lot of uneasiness in the changes we've made."

One of major changes was hiring Dwane Casey, and Garnett made
sure to say that he thinks the coach has the team on the right
track. Garnett did not express any unhappiness with being in
Minnesota.

"There has been not one negative thing about KG," Casey said
in response to the pregame comments. "I love the guy."

Six Timberwolves players scored in double figures as Minnesota
snapped a two-game losing streak.

Arenas had 33 points and Caron Butler added 15 for Washington,
which has lost two straight. The Wizards had five players in double
figures, but no one could prevent Garnett from filling up the stat
sheet.

"When he gets going, it's hard to stop him," Butler said.
"What makes him special is he was finding his teammates and they
were knocking down shots."

"He had an X-factor in Richie Frahm coming off the bench,"
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "I can't fault my guys for
that."

After building a 15-point lead, Minnesota let Washington back in
the game in the third quarter. But, two hustle plays and Frahm's
shooting, restored the Wolves' double-digit lead midway through the
fourth.

With the Wolves hanging on to an 86-83 lead, Szczerbiak dove for
a loose ball and passed ahead to Frahm for a dunk. Then, after
Hudson took a charge, Frahm hit a 3-pointer to make it 93-83 with
6:07 left.

"We just played with a sense of urgency and we knew we had to
get this one," Hudson said.

The Wizards did not get closer than eight points the rest of the
way as Frahm hit two more 3-pointers down the stretch.

Minnesota shot 53.5 percent from the field with Garnett hitting
12-of-19 shots and Frahm hitting 6-of-7.

The Wolves extended a 10-point halftime lead to 76-63 on Marko
Jaric's dunk with 3:17 left in the third. Butler then sparked a run
with four straight points as the Wizards began to cut the deficit.

Arenas hit two straight 3-pointers to complete the 15-3 run and
bring Washington within 79-78 heading into the fourth.

Garnett shot 5-for-6 from the field in the second quarter,
including a 20-footer at the buzzer to give Minnesota a 57-47
halftime lead.

The score was tied at 26 after one quarter.

Game notes
The Wolves outrebounded the Wizards 45-31. ... Minnesota
(52) and Washington (44) combined for 96 points in the paint. ...
The Wolves have beaten the Wizards six straight times in Minnesota.
... Arenas, Butler and Antawn Jamison, who entered the game
averaging 65.1 points as a trio, combined for 60.