Almost made him feel like a kid.
Gill rallied Minnesota with nine of his 22 points in the fourth
quarter to lead the Timberwolves to a 90-86 victory over Jordan and
the Washington Wizards.
"I've just been working really hard,'' Gill said. "Because of my age, I have to.''
Jordan, five years Gill's senior at age 39, looked even older than that. He had 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting, but Gill indicated he didn't see Jordan's best.
The 10-time NBA scoring champion is coming off the bench for the first time in his career, and the Wizards are still trying to make their new pieces fit.
"It seems like he's holding back a little bit,'' Gill said. "He wasn't pressing it tonight. I sense he could do a lot more.''
The Wizards were outscored 24-11 in the final period and shot just 9 percent from the floor (2-for-22).
"You can't do that,'' Jordan said. "We have enough people who can score -- we just have to get them in the right position. Everyone looks to me in the fourth quarter, but I'm looking to spread the ball around.''
Kevin Garnett was 5-for-5 in the final period and finished with
17 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota, which is 3-0 at home.
The game drew an announced crowd of 18,009 -- 997 short of
capacity. It was only the fourth time since Jordan's return -- the
first this season -- that a Wizards game hasn't sold out.
Gill, a 13-year veteran brought to training camp by the Timberwolves on a non-guaranteed contract, had by far his best game of the young season while matched mostly against Jordan.
"Real big spark,'' Garnett said. "He hit 'em when we really needed 'em.''
After Garnett hit a jumper over Stackhouse to make it 82-all and
rejected Etan Thomas at the other end, Gill capped a 17-3 run and
gave Minnesota its first lead since the second quarter by draining
a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:44 left.
After two free throws by Stackhouse, Gill turned a steal into a
fastbreak layup and an 87-84 edge. After a Wizards turnover, a shot
by Gill over Jordan made it 89-84 with 56 seconds left.
For an exclamation, Gill got a piece of Jordan's jumper at the
free throw line on the next possession.
With three starters hurt, Gill's contribution was big for Minnesota.
"He's getting a chance to step up big now with (Wally) Szczerbiak's injury,'' Jordan said. "He's a pro. He knows what he's doing out there.''
Jordan wasn't much of a factor after scoring 21 points in each
of his last two games. He did, however, hit back-to-back baskets
late in the third quarter as Washington pulled away with a 10-0 run
and grabbed its biggest lead of the game, 71-57.
"To be on the road up by 14 and not finish, that's bad,'' Lue said.
A night after committing a team-record 29 turnovers in a
24-point loss to reigning Eastern Conference champion New Jersey,
the Timberwolves tightened up their offense but again struggled to
find scoring with three of their starters from last season out with injuries.
Outscored 61-36 in the second and third quarters against the
Nets, Minnesota -- playing its fourth game in five nights -- looked
ragged again in the middle periods as players shot several
frustrated looks at each other.
"We were just looking for that rhythm,'' said Rasho Nesterovic, who had 11 points. "Finally, we found it in the fourth quarter, especially on defense.''
Szczerbiak missed his 11th straight game -- including six in
the preseason -- since dislocating the little toe on his left foot
Oct. 8. If he has a pain-free practice Wednesday, Szczerbiak said
he'll return the next day against Milwaukee. ... Saunders said F
Joe Smith (strained groin) is "a ways away'' from returning.
Minnesota's other missing starter, point guard Terrell Brandon, is
out indefinitely as he recovers from knee surgery. ... In the
Wizards' three losses, they've shot 35 percent from the field. ...
Troy Hudson had 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting for Minnesota.