- The Washington Times - Friday, December 8, 2000


MINNEAPOLIS The season officially ends for the Washington Wizards on April 18. But the way things are going for this basketball team these days, it might as well be over right now.

Playing another uninspired game, the Wizards fell 105-88 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who laughed and joked among themselves for the last six minutes of the game at Target Center.

Kevin Garnett and Terrell Brandon paced the Timberwolves with a game-high 24 points each. Brandon needed just three quarters to get his total, and the Timberwolves made 52.4 percent of their shots from the field (44-for 84).

Richard Hamilton led the Wizards, who were outrebounded 42-29, with 22 points. Felipe Lopez added 12 and Jahidi White 11. Playing their third game without injured Mitch Richmond, Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland chipped in with only a combined 16 points.

The Wizards last road win was Nov. 7 against the league’s biggest embarrassment, Chicago. Not coincidentally, Chicago, which has won just twice this season, is the only team in the league with a worse record than the Wizards (4-16). Washington has lost 12 of its last 14 games, and its six-game losing streak, which began Nov. 28 with a 102-75 loss at home to Atlanta, is its longest of the season.

Surprisingly, Minnesota (11-8) is the one team in the league the Wizards have dominated in recent years. Before last night, the Wizards had taken eight of nine games from the Timberwolves. But the Wizards never led and never mounted a serious threat to the Timberwolves, who pushed their fourth-quarter lead as high as 90-72.

Just one night earlier, the Wizards allowed a 19-point lead to slip away in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers. That debacle was followed by a scathing tongue-lashing by president of basketball operations Michael Jordan that left many of the players with nothing to say.

The Wizards’ opening statement last night left much to be desired. Minnesota hit 14 of 22 from the floor and scored 34 points in the first quarter, just three fewer than the Wizards had allowed in the fourth the night before against Los Angeles.

With the Timberwolves leading 22-21 after Juwan Howard’s layup with 3:42 left in the quarter, Minnesota went on a 16-4 run that put it ahead 38-25 with 10:29 left in the second.

Washington got back into the game on the strength of its perimeter players, namely Hamilton and Lopez. Hamilton, still coming off of the bench, led the Wizards with 13 points in the first half. Lopez, who missed his first six shots from the floor, got hot in the later stages of the second quarter. Hamilton hit for nine of his 14 first-half points, and the two combined to score 17 of the Wizards’ last 19 points in the half as Washington closed the deficit to 54-49 by halftime. But none of that momentum carried over into the third quarter.

Washington began stone cold from the field. The Wizards didn’t hit their third field goal of the quarter until Hamilton who was whistled for a technical foul later in the period hit a jumper with 4:36 left.

Hamilton was tagged when he disputed a foul call against him. However, the emotions that Hamilton displayed in the period were the sole reason the Wizards were not blown out. Hamilton scored nine of the Wizards’ 17 points in the quarter.

However, the Wizards did a horrible job of containing Brandon in the quarter as he stepped outside for jumpers and penetrated past Strickland for easy baskets on the way to 14 points in the period.

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