- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The formula for beating the Minnesota Timberwolves remains the same: Neutralize Kevin Garnett.

And it’s made all the more simplistic when his teammates appear to be co-conspirators in the plot.

That was the case last night at MCI Center as the Washington Wizards returned from the All-Star break with a satisfying 90-78 victory over the Timberwolves, coming back from a 19-point deficit — their largest comeback of the season.

The victory was the Wizards’ eighth straight at MCI Center, where they have won 11 of their last 12.

A nine-time All Star, Garnett finished with just 15 points on 7-for-16 shooting. When the Timberwolves made a second-half run, Garnett made just three field goals. In the fourth quarter, when the Timberwolves scored just 15 points, Garnett took just two shots.

“We got a lot of help on Garnett,” said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, who switched his defense from man-to-man to zone on numerous possessions. “Sometimes we went one-on-one with KG, other times we rolled over the help. It wasn’t a huge part of our game plan. Our guys just knew when to help out on KG. It was a good thing to see that we sustained that kind of energy and kept getting after it.”

Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas scored a game-high 34 points on 14-for-23 shooting — the 25th time this season he has scored 30 points. For Arenas, who also had five assists and five rebounds, it was a good rebound from his 4-for-22 performance against Dallas before the break.

Last night, the Wizards (27-25) fought back from a 19-point deficit to lead by 13 with just more than four minutes left in the third quarter.

A 14-3 run bridging the third and fourth quarters pulled the Timberwolves to within 71-69 with just more than 10 minutes left.

But the Wizards proved too much for the confused Timberwolves, outscoring them 19-9 the rest of the game.

“The good thing is that we didn’t panic,” said Wizards reserve Antonio Daniels, who totaled nine points, four assists and no turnovers. “We fell behind them and it might have been because we were a little bit rusty at first. But the good thing is we got the win.”

Caron Butler finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, Antawn Jamison added 10 points and eight rebounds and Brendan Haywood — who came off the bench — finished with nine points and nine rebounds.

Ricky Davis led the Timberwolves (23-30) with 25 points and six assists.

The Wizards looked as lethargic in the first quarter as they have at their worst points this season. They didn’t score a basket until Arenas converted a driving layup with 8:14 left in the period, making the score 12-2.

In the first quarter, the Wizards couldn’t stop Davis, who scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, leading the Timberwolves to a 17-point lead at the end of the period.

But the Wizards bounced back in the second quarter, hitting 11 of 17 shots and outscoring Minnesota 31-9. They also held the Timberwolves to 4-for-21 shooting.

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