MILWAUKEE, Nov. 10 (Ticker) --
An abysmal first quarter ended the unbeaten run of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Minnesota and Joe Smith ran circles around the Bucks in Milwaukee.
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scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves built a 19-point lead after one quarter to coast to a 98-82 triumph over the Bucks in a battle of
Minnesota moved its franchise-record start to 6-0 and remained one of two teams with perfect records along with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Timberwolves also won their sixth straight visit to Milwaukee.
One reason for the Wolves' fast start has been their usage of the zone defense, which has given opponents plenty of trouble and created numerous problems for Milwaukee.
"The zone rules definitely helped us," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We put Garnett on Glenn (Robinson) and then we don't have to trap. That really helps neutralize their options and gives us good matchups."
Joe Smith's layup gave the Timberwolves a 9-2 lead just over three minutes into the game. A basket by Robinson cut the deficit to 14-8 with 6:12 remaining but it was Milwaukee's final hoop of the period.
Smith had a three-point play to trigger a 14-0 spurt that built a 28-8 lead with 21 seconds left. The Bucks finally got a free throw from Sam Cassell to close the quarter but made just 1-of-8 from the line in the quarter.
"The one thing I said is we hadn't played a really good defensive team until Miami and I think this team is a really good defensive team," Bucks coach George Karl said. "(The zone) made us take shots we weren't really comfortable with."
Milwaukee made 4-of-16 shots and saw three turnovers lead to seven points for Minnesota. The Bucks were outrebounded, 22-10, and never got within single digits thereafter.
"They just pounded us on the boards," Karl said. "They pushed us right out of the way. Our guys need to be stronger and tougher, not prettier and more polite."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 19 points and Smith finished with 16 for Minnesota, which placed all five starters in double figures. Rasho Nesterovic contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolves.
"We don't want to change much," Szczerbiak said. "We beat one of the best teams in the East tonight. We really sent a message to the league."
The 7-foot Nesterovic has given Minnesota a true center to make things comfortable for Garnett at his natural power forward slot. With the 6-10 Smith also on the front line, the Wolves' zone is one of the toughest in the league to crack.
"With our length, we are able to make them take contested shots," Saunders said. "Our man (defense) was great, it helped when we mixed in some zone. Our goal was to contest shots and we did a good job with that."
Ray Allen failed to reach 20 points for the first time with 16 and Robinson added 14 but each made just 7-of-18 shots. Milwaukee (4-1) was 5-of-17 at the foul line.
The early deficit forced Milwaukee to abandon its free-wheeling style in a frantic attempt to come back. Cassell made just 3-of-10 shots for nine points and the Bucks' starting frontcourt was outscored, 46-24.
"We didn't pass the ball, we didn't run plays and we missed free throws," Allen said. "We didn't do anything you need to do to win the game. We wanted to win to show the rest of the league that we're legit but we didn't do that. We got slapped in the face."
Minnesota's last road loss to the Bucks was a 100-93 setback on February 8, 1995.