Arenas scored six straight points to ignite a decisive 20-3
fourth-quarter run that helped the Wizards take control. Butler
also had a key steal of an inbounds pass and Minnesota committed
several turnovers during that decisive stretch.
"I thought that was a big play for us," center Brendan Haywood
said of the steal. "You could see the life drain out of them. They
kept talking about, 'It's not over, it's not over.' After that
play, they knew it was over."
Rashad McCants led the Wolves with 19 points and Al Jefferson
chipped in with 15, but struggled shooting all night and appeared
to be bothered by Haywood's size down low.
"Plays aren't just going to happen. You need to make them
happen," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "You can call it youth
or you can call it what you want. There's a little bit of that in
there but it can't be an excuse for us."
Both teams lost their first five games of the season, but have
played better recently. The Wizards snapped a seven-game skid at
the Target Center. Friday's win was the franchise's first in
Minnesota since March 7, 2000.
"We started off worse than we can imagine, started off slow,"
said Arenas, who recently declared that his new nickname is Nacho.
"Now we're picking up some momentum. We're just trying to get out
of this November alive, because we know December and January is our
The young Timberwolves appeared to be pulling away in the third
quarter, but the Wizards stormed back.
A long jumper from
Darius Songalia capped a 14-2 run and helped
Washington erase a 12-point Minnesota lead in the third. Arenas
gave the Wizards the lead for good by sinking a jumper with about
five minutes left in the fourth.
"I thought we settled for a lot of jump shots," Jefferson
said. "We got away from what got us the lead in the first place."
Washington coach Eddie Jordan said before the game that his team
needed to attack the basket and play with "disciplined
aggression." That's exactly what it did to start the game and
The Wizards made five layups and led 10-2 before the game was
three minutes old. Minnesota allowed a season-high 32 points in the
first quarter and trailed by eight.
Veteran reserve Antoine Walker sparked the Wolves in the second.
The journeyman forward sank three 3-pointers and finished with 11
points as Minnesota took a 51-47 lead into the locker room.
But turnovers eventually caught up with the Wolves in the second
half. Minnesota had a season-high 20 turnovers, resulting in 29
"Guys turned up the intensity a bit on the defensive end,"
Haywood said. "Guys started passing the ball around more. I just
think there was a sense of urgency that we needed to get it done
because we knew we couldn't lose this game."
Wittman would have liked to see his team be more decisive later
in the game.
"I thought we exhausted the dribble in the fourth quarter," he
said. "I though the ball just started sticking too much."
Second-year guard Randy Foye has yet to play this season
due to a knee injury. Wittman jokingly asked him during the pregame
shootaround if he was playing tonight. However, Wittman's smile
turned to a scowl once Foye replied with a yes and went into a
slow-motion spin move. ... All five Washington starters had a
basket less than three minutes into the game. ... Wolves forward
Craig Smith returned after missing one game with a sprained ankle.
... Only six players on either team were in the league the last
time the Wizards won at the Target Center.