- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

There are times in a father’s life when all he wants to do is enjoy the uncompromising adulation of his son. That explains why Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan showed up at last night’s postgame news conference with his 5-year-old son, Jackson, clinging to his neck.

“Yeah, sometimes you need this,” said Jordan, mustering a smile, not long after the Minnesota Timberwolves handed the Wizards one of their most complete beatings of the season, 110-91.

No one could blame Jordan for feeling like his son was his only friend among the 16,802 at MCI Center, because the Wizards were trampled by a clearly superior team that is not at full strength.

The Timberwolves are waiting to see what they will look like when they can deploy all of their weapons. Last night they were without Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson. But it didn’t matter.

The Timberwolves (13-9) opened the game making 15 of their first 16 shots, and closed making 12 of their last 15. Overall, Minnesota made 47 of 84 shots, or 56 percent.

The loss dropped the Wizards’ record to 7-15. It was their third loss in a row, their seventh in the last eight games, and their 13th in their last 17.

“They were ready,” Jordan said. “I’ve been in a locker room where a team has a lot of confidence. They’ve got that big weapon, and they come into a gym where they know that other team is struggling big time like we are and they get more confident. They smell victory, and they taste blood. They know we’re down and out. They just came in here and they wanted to put us out. That’s what they did.”

That big weapon Jordan was talking about was, of course, all-everything forward Kevin Garnett. He came in averaging 23.9 points and 14.2 rebounds, numbers that have his name higher than ever in premature talks about who should be the league’s MVP.

Garnett did nothing to hurt his numbers, dropping 23 points, 16 rebounds and five assists on the Wizards. But this was not all Garnett.

Sam Cassell chipped in with 25 points and seven assists. Latrell Sprewell hit the Wizards for 21 points and seven assists. Even a guy by the name of Trenton Hassell had an impressive game, making six of seven shots from the field to finish with 14 points. He also finished with 10 rebounds.

The Wizards were led by Larry Hughes’ 16 points. They also got 14 points from Christian Laettner, who was part of a bench that scored 44 points.

The Wizards welcomed back starting point guard Gilbert Arenas, who had spent the previous eight games on the injured list with a severely strained abdomen, and it was clear that Arenas was still bothered by the injury.

This was evident when Arenas chose to lay the ball in rather than dunk it on a breakaway late in the second quarter. Overall, he was not much of a factor. In 24 minutes, Arenas shot 3-for-9 from the field and finished with nine points, four assists and five turnovers.

“It was a little sore,” Arenas said of the abdomen. “Once I sat down, it got stiff and I couldn’t really do everything I wanted to do. But it was good because I got to see where I was. I’ll probably take a couple of more days off so I can come back and help the team out.”

The Wizards could have been completely demoralized by the ridiculously good performance of the Timberwolves in the first quarter. They didn’t miss their second shot from the floor until Garnett missed a jumper from beyond his range with 1:36 left in the period.

When it was all done, the Timberwolves had scored 39 points, the most for them in the first quarter of any game this season. It also was the most points the Wizards have given up in a quarter this season.

However, the Wizards’ second unit played well in place of the starters for most of the second quarter. Trailing 39-23 after one, the Wizards mounted a vicious charge to get back into the game. With their reserves scoring 25 of their 30 points in the second quarter, the Wizards eventually took the lead and trailed 57-53 at halftime.

But they were undone completely when the ‘Wolves outscored them 28-16 in the fourth quarter, making nine of 14 shots.

“We got out and ran our plays and we executed,” Sprewell said. “They played hard but we were in a groove when we needed to be.”


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