- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS — Washington, the toast of the Eastern Conference simply because it has spent much of the early portion of the season not resembling the Wizards of the past, last night bore a striking resemblance to the also-rans of recent seasons.

In absorbing their worst beating of the season, 109-74 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of 15,398 at Target Center, the Wizards (14-11) return home tonight looking to get back on track against the Charlotte Bobcats.

“Nights like tonight should not happen at all,” said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, who finished with a season-low eight points on 4-for-10 shooting. “As a team it’s our responsibility not to let things like this happen. And tonight, I don’t even recognize the team that was out there.”

The defeat was the Wizards’ worst since they lost 111-67 at New Jersey on Jan. 16, 2002, and the 10th biggest margin in franchise history.

The blowout represented the Timberwolves’ third-largest victory in franchise history. It saw them outscore the Wizards 62-38 in the second half and outrebound them 49-38 for the game. Sloppy Washington had 20 turnovers, 13 more than the Timberwolves. Meanwhile, Minnesota (16-10), led by Wally Szczerbiak’s game-high 23 points and six assists, continually found the open shooter en route to 30 assists.

The Wizards, on the other hand, were led by Kwame Brown’s (yes, that Kwame Brown) four assists. Washington finished with just 17 as a team.

The Wizards’ frontline was virtually invisible, with the starting triumvirate of Antawn Jamison (eight points), Jared Jeffries (two points) and Brendan Haywood (five points) combining to score fewer points than three Timberwolves.

Kevin Garnett finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds and played havoc with Jamison’s game all night. Jamison’s point total was his lowest since he scored five as a reserve with Dallas on March 30 of last season.

“No excuses tonight,” coach Eddie Jordan said of the Wizards, whose last three losses have come by 14, 11 and 35 points. “I think we lost some discipline tonight. Kevin Garnett is hard to prepare for, but we threw the ball away. There were times when we didn’t get back on defense. I’m not blaming one individual. We lost our composure tonight.”

Throughout the post-game locker room last night, there was a feeling that the Wizards could be approaching a turning point in the season where they either realize the potential they have shown early on or they collapse at a time when the Eastern Conference is as bad as it has been in years.

“By far!” exclaimed guard Gilbert Arenas when asked if this was the worst showing of the season by the Wizards. “We didn’t play hard. We didn’t help each other. We didn’t do anything out there right.”

One of the more frequently used axioms in the NBA is that the games come up so quickly that teams don’t have time to mull over a bad performance. Such is the case with tonight’s home game against expansion Charlotte.

“This is one of those games where we have to look at and see where we went wrong,” Jamison said. “It’s frustrating because we’ve done a great job of doing the right things. But right now we’ve got to find a way. We have to stop the bleeding before it really gets deep.”

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