MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- On a night when many of their fans showed up
to see the opposing team's best player, the Minnesota Timberwolves
offered more reasons why they're one of the NBA's best teams.
"We just really tried to play together," said Anthony Peeler,
who scored 14 points in a reserve role. "We don't have anybody who
plays with anger or anything. Everybody loves the game on this
team, and it shows."
The Midwest Division-leading Timberwolves (30-10) won for the
14th time in 16 games and improved to 18-2 at home.
"In the first half, Michael was able to go off on them a
little," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "They just kept running
fresh bodies at him, and they make him work so hard. They just wore
him down. We've got some injuries, and that puts so much pressure
Jordan had 22 points in the first half, temporarily bouncing
back from a poor shooting performance in Chicago on Saturday. But
Jordan, who totaled 26 points on 11-for-35 shooting in his last two
games, was 2-for-15 from the field in the second half.
"In the fourth quarter, I just kind of lost my rhythm," Jordan
said. "I was tired, but I had some good looks and the shots didn't
fall. I missed some easy shots -- shots I should've made."
Still, the Timberwolves had plenty of praise for Jordan after
their first and only home game against the Wizards this year.
"I'm glad I didn't have to guard him," Peeler said.
Added Joe Smith: "He's got so many tricks. I don't think he's
slowed down. He carried his team in the first half."
Chris Whitney scored 16 points for the Wizards, who have lost
five of six.
Minnesota's Terrell Brandon, in his second game back after
missing the previous 16 with a knee injury, scored 17 points in 23
minutes as a reserve.
Wally Szczerbiak added 19 points for the Timberwolves.
"They are one of the elite teams in the West," Jordan said.
"It's how well they bond together in big games. They certainly can
make a run."
Washington, which averaged 72 points in its last two games,
faded in the second half, shooting 14-for-45 in the last two
Neither team led by more than five until Brandon's jumper at the
start of the fourth quarter gave Minnesota an 85-79 advantage, a
lead it never relinquished.
The Timberwolves went on a late 13-6 run late in the first half
and led 56-51 lead with 1:19 left. A vintage fadeaway jumper by
Jordan just before the buzzer cut Minnesota's lead to three at the
The Wizards' offense came primarily from their frontcourt early
in the game. Popeye Jones and Jahidi White scored Washington's
first 11 points, and Jordan missed his first four shots -- the first
two were airballs.
But Jordan warmed up, hitting 10 of his next 15 shots. Minnesota
wore him down, though, in the second half.
"They've got guys who can hurt you in a number of different
positions," Collins said. "They play for those little spurts.
They wait and hang with you until you go through a stretch where
you miss four or five shots and they put 20 on you."
Jordan scored 64 points in two games against Minnesota. ...
The overflow crowd of 20,320 was the largest ever at Target Center.
... Minnesota played a home game on Martin Luther King Day for the
seventh time in eight seasons. ... Wizards coach Doug Collins said
guard/forward Richard Hamilton probably won't be back until the
first week of February. Hamilton, Washington's only player other
than Jordan who averages more than 10 points, has missed 13 games
with an injured right groin muscle. ... Jordan said he's still
planning to play next year. "If my body holds up, I'll be there,"
he said after the Wizards' shootaround Monday morning.