CHICAGO (AP) -- This was almost too easy for the Minnesota
"It was basically target practice out there," Szczerbiak said
of the Timberwolves, who shot 51 percent from the floor. "When we
play unselfishly and space the floor, we get lots of open shots."
Say this for the Bulls, though. At least it was better than the
record 53-point pasting the Timberwolves put on them last month.
"Our goal was not to not lose by 50 points," said Marcus
Fizer, who led the Bulls with a season-high 25 points. "Our goal
was to win the game. This one hurts as much as any other."
Garnett had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine
assists before he left with 3:13 remaining. Four other Timberwolves
also finished in double figures.
Fizer was the lone bright spot for the Bulls, who have lost six
straight, including three in a row at home. He was 10-for-18 from
the floor, but had just two rebounds.
"His rebounding numbers I know, and I think he knows, have to
get better," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said. "Two boards is not what
we need from a starting power forward."
The game was so out of hand that Garnett, Smith, Szczerbiak and
Billups all left with just over three minutes left -- even with
Garnett the one assist away from the triple-double. Smith gave
Garnett a big hug, and the United Center crowd cheered the former
Farragut Academy star.
"As a fan of the Bulls, I'm upset they broke up the dynasty,"
Garnett said. "As a player, I look forward to coming to the United
Center. They give me a lot of love and I give love back."
Well, the Bulls might not see it that way. Garnett had his 18th
double-double of the season, and the Bulls never had any answer for
him. His most impressive play of the night? A spectacular pass in
the second quarter.
After grabbing an offensive rebound with 3:16 left in the first
half, Garnett stepped away from the basket. Turning his head to the
left, he whipped the ball right -- in front and around his body in
an arc -- to Billups, who took it in for the easy layup.
"We have the team organized around a style, not around any one
guy or anyone getting so many points or so many shots," Garnett
said. "There's no ego on this team. As long as we win and we're
all focused on the goal of winning, there's no one complaining."
Unlike their last meeting, Chicago was still within double
digits with 11:10 left. Chandler made a pair of free throws, and
Eddy Curry followed with a monster dunk to cut Minnesota's lead to
But Peeler hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Szczerbiak added
another 3 to essentially end the game. Minnesota had a 74-57 lead,
and the Bulls never got closer.
"We hung in there for a while," Floyd said. "For at least
three quarters, we were within striking distance, eight or 10
points. That was because we guarded. We did not really get it going
Especially early, as the Bulls shot less than 24 percent in the
first quarter. After Ron Mercer hit a 15-footer to pull Chicago
within 14-10 with 5:29 left in the first, Minnesota held the Bulls
without a field goal for the next 7:52.
Garnett, meanwhile, hit a 17-footer to spark a 12-3 run that
gave Minnesota a 26-13 lead -- its largest of the half -- with 9:56
Minnesota outscored the Bulls 38-20 in the paint. The
Timberwolves also had a 17-8 advantage in second-chance points. ...
In two games against the Bulls, Minnesota had 74 assists. ... Bulls
guard Greg Anthony did not play after the first quarter because of
a strained Achilles tendon. ... Bulls forward Charles Oakley sat
out the game with tendinitis in his right forearm. ... Ron Artest,
playing just his second game of the season, had 10 points before
fouling out in the fourth quarter.