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Saunders: 'We pretty much got our butts kicked'

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- On both ends of the floor, the Minnesota
Timberwolves were flat from start to finish.

Kerry Kittles scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half
Saturday night to spark the New Jersey Nets to a 96-82 victory over
Minnesota.

"As I told our guys, it's pretty easy, pretty simple. We pretty
much got our butts kicked,'' said Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders.
"It's just disappointing.''

Jason Kidd had 18 points and 12 assists and Richard Jefferson
had 14 points and seven rebounds for the defending Eastern
Conference champions, who won their second game in as many nights
to improve to 10-4.

With an array of pull-up jumpers and uncontested layups off
give-and-go passes, Kittles -- guarded mostly by Anthony Peeler and
former teammate Kendall Gill -- had 13 points in the first quarter
after totaling 13 in his previous two games.

But tight defense was just as important for the Nets, who held
Minnesota to 37 percent shooting.

"That's what gets us going,'' Kittles said. "That's where we
excel.''

Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Troy Hudson
scored 12 points for Minnesota, which plays seven of its next eight
on the road -- where the Wolves are 2-4 this year.

The Nets weren't quite as sharp as they were in their 120-79
romp over Cleveland the night before, but they didn't need to be.

Running the motion offense with precision -- the way Minnesota is
aiming to in its first year playing it under Saunders -- New Jersey
shot 57 percent in the first half and outscored the Wolves 50-36 in
the paint.

"We let 'em get too many layups,'' Hudson said. "We lost focus
on guarding our man too much. They get a lot of movement and a lot
of back cuts. They run (the offense) to a T. All five guys cutting
to the ball and without the ball. That's the point we're trying to
get to.''

That's been very difficult to do so far without a healthy team.

Point guard Terrell Brandon is out indefinitely, likely for the
year, with a knee injury, and so is guard Felipe Lopez.

Plus, All-Star shooting guard Wally Szczerbiak -- on the injured
list with a sprained toe -- has played in only four games.

"We put it in with the idea of having Wally and Felipe on the
perimeter,'' Saunders said. "Right now, (our lineup) is not
conducive to (running the motion offense). We've struggled to get
the ball inside.''

It doesn't help when things aren't working on the other end,
either. The Wolves tried to play a little zone but bagged it after
falling behind early.

"Defensively, we've got to get back to doing the things we were
doing in preseason and training camp,'' Garnett said.

Kittles keyed a 12-3 run with eight points over the final
four-plus minutes of the first quarter as the Nets took a 30-18
lead.

From there, the Wolves -- looking short on energy and out of
rhythm offensively -- never got closer than nine and fell behind by
as many as 22, 83-61 after back-to-back jumpers by Lucious Harris
to start the fourth period.

"I saw exactly what I wanted to see,'' said Nets coach Byron
Scott. "We played with high energy and were very aggressive on the
other end.''

That's something the Wolves couldn't say about themselves.

Game notes
Gill, who spent six seasons in New Jersey, had eight points
on 3-for-13 shooting. ... The Nets didn't attempt a free throw
until Kenyon Martin made two with 8:17 to go in the second quarter.
They finished 6-for-10 at the line. ... Though they play only twice
a year, New Jersey won the season series with Minnesota for the
first time since 1991-92. ... Scott tied Chuck Daly for third place
on the Nets' all-time coaching victory list with 88. ... The two
starting centers, Minnesota's Rasho Nesterovic and New Jersey's
Dikembe Mutombo, combined to shoot 6-for-19 from the field. ... The
Nets won for just the second time in their last nine games at
Target Center.

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