Season-high 22 turnovers doom Minnesota

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Minnesota's misery shows no sign of

The Timberwolves dropped below .500 for the first time since
early last season, getting blown out early in a 108-96 loss to the
Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

"In this league, especially on the road, if you don't come to
play, you are going to get blown out and that is what happened,"
Minnesota reserve Wally Szczerbiak said.

Lorenzen Wright had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead six
Memphis players in double figures. It marked Wright's fourth
consecutive double-double as Memphis won for the fourth time in
five games. Stromile Swift matched Wright's 18 points.

Wright has been filling a void created by leading scorer Pau
Gasol being on the injured list with a foot injury.

"I have a lot more responsibilities now that Pau's not in,"
Wright said. "I have to step up my game so we can win some games.
I'm getting a few more touches, and I'm trying to convert on the
few shots I get."

Memphis built the lead to 29 in the third period before a 9-0
Minnesota rally cut the lead to 98-86 with 5:22 to play. But the
Timberwolves could get no closer, losing their sixth straight.
Minnesota had won its previous 10 road games against the Grizzlies.

Minnesota had not been below .500 since the fifth game of the
2003-2004 season.

The Timberwolves' futility included a season-high 22 turnovers
leading to 24 Memphis points, and no scoring from backcourt
starters Sam Cassell and Trenton Hassell. Cassell was limited to
seven minutes in the first quarter before his right hamstring

The turnovers negated a 53 percent shooting performance for the

"It's very difficult to shoot the percentage we shot and get
blown out," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "... We really
turned the ball over way too much.

Memphis players said the defensive intensity that led to the
turnovers comes from the more aggressive play preached by coach
Mike Fratello.

"Collectively, we watch each other's back when we are out
there," reserve forward Brian Cardinal said. "If somebody gambles
or goes for a steal, we know somebody else is going to be behind us
and take a charge or take on that man."

Jason Williams had 15 points and eight assists, while Shane
Battier and Cardinal finished with 14 each. Dahntay Jones scored 12
for Memphis. It marked the fourth consecutive game Memphis has had
at least six players in double figures.

Kevin Garnett scored 24 points, shooting 9-of-11, to lead
Minnesota, while Szczerbiak scored 19 on 9-of-12 shooting. Latrell
Sprewell scored 17, and Troy Hudson had 13 with eight assists.
Garnett had seven rebounds, marking only the seventh game this
season he did not record a double-double.

Memphis would lead by 20 in the first half before taking a 63-44
advantage at the break. The 63 points were only two short of the
most allowed by Minnesota in a half this season.

"I'm surprised at the lack of energy to start the game,"
Saunders said. "We let them kind of maul us right from the

Memphis continued to score with ease in the third period, taking
a 90-65 lead into the final period.

"Teams remember all the trash we talked last year, winning the
West and having one of the best records in the league," Szczerbiak
said. "Now, it's their chance to get payback on us, and we have to
fight back."

Game notes
Memphis reserve C Jake Tsakalidis sat out the game with a
neck sprain. ... Sprewell got a technical foul from official Bob
Delaney with 9:34 left in the first quarter after Sprewell was
called for walking. ...Garnett drew a technical foul at the half
when he tossed the ball over his shoulder toward the Grizzlies
leaving the floor. Jason Williams hit the free throw to open the
second half. ...Grizzlies reserve G Earl Watson saw his first
action after missing two games with a right shoulder sprain. Bonzi
Wells also returned after a two-game absence with a left leg