WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups
got things started, then
finished off the Washington Wizards.
Billups scored a season-high 29 points as the red-hot Minnesota
Timberwolves withstood a scintillating first half by Michael
Jordan and held off the Wizards, 108-100, for their eighth
Billups scored 19 points in the first quarter, making 4-of-4
3-pointers, as Minnesota took the lead for good. He was quiet
in the middle two periods as Kevin Garnett shouldered the
"Flip recognized and started running some plays for me," Billups
said, referring to coach Flip Saunders. "I just tried to keep
it rolling, then I got a little tired in that second quarter."
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Jahidi White attempts a layup in Washington.
A jumper by Billups gave Minnesota a 97-85 lead with 6:10 left
before Washington made a final push. A pull-up jumper by Jordan
-- who scored 35 points -- made it 101-96 with 2:34 to go.
Garnett answered with two free throws and Billups dribbled a
rebound out of the pack and weaved his way through defenders for
a layup and a 105-96 lead with 1:50 remaining.
Baskets by Jahidi White and Jordan again cut the deficit to five
points with under a minute to play. Early in the shot clock,
Billups drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing that sealed it
with 42 seconds left.
"I just tried to do the same thing I did all game, which was be
aggressive," Billups said. "We lost a couple games this year
playing not to lose instead of just playing to win. So I just
wanted to stick a dagger in them and try to get a stop. That
last three was the dagger. We ran a play just like we had four
times before, and I just stuck it."
"Chauncey Billups made some real big shots for them and every
time we felt like we had the momentum, those shots would take
the momentum right back," Jordan said.
Billups made 11-of-18 shots, including 5-of-9 from the arc. He
has been starting for point guard Terrell Brandon, who is out
with a sore knee, and has provided needed offense, averaging
16.8 points per game in 19 starts and reaching double figures in
all but two of those contests.
"I just want to take advantage of my opportunity until Terrell
gets back," Billups said.
Garnett scored 31 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 16 for the
Timberwolves, who have ridden their season-high winning streak
into first place in the Midwest Division.
Coming off an 18-point home victory over the defending NBA
champion Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota won in Washington for the
first time in six games since December 17, 1994.
"Right now, our team's playing well and we have a lot of
confidence in ourselves," Garnett said. "We're coming out and
playing confident basketball. No disrespect to the other teams,
but we're really focusing on what we have to do and what we do
really well. And we're coming out and doing that for 48
White had a season-high 22 points and 13 rebounds for the
Wizards, who have lost two in a row following a four-game
"We've got work to do," Jordan said. "If the Timberwolves were
in the East, they would dominate it."
In a span of under 2 1/2 minutes of the first quarter, Billups
made five straight shots -- a 16-footer and four 3-pointers. On
the last one, he drew a foul from Chris Whitney and made the
free throw for a rare four-point play and a 27-17 lead with 4:17
Jordan scored 12 points in the first quarter, which ended with
Minnesota holding a 33-26 lead. In the second period, he made
6-of-8 shots and scored 14 points as he burned Szczerbiak and
Garnett with mid-range jumpers.
However, Garnett was equally unstoppable on the other end as he
scored 13 points and the Wolves widened their lead to 61-52 at
"You just sat there," Saunders said. "That was great players
making great plays, both guys. This was a game where you had
players who totally got into a zone. Michael was in a zone for
a while. Chauncey Billups (in) the first quarter. You had
Garnett. It was a pleasure to watch. KG went at Michael,
Michael came right back at KG, and KG went right back. That's
what great players do. They relish those challenges. They both
went at each other, and you could see the respect they both have
for each other."
"I'm in the wonderful world of Michael's land here," Garnett
said. "I've definitely been keeping an eye on him and I know he
definitely has the ability to heat up, so I was just trying to
be aggressive myself. It was fun."
Garnett scored 10 more points in the third quarter, but the
Wizards rallied and closed within 75-74 on three free throws by
Tyronn Lue with 55 seconds to go.
Garnett and Felipe Lopez made two foul shots each to close the
quarter and Minnesota began the final period with a 9-2 surge,
opening an 88-76 lead with 9 1/2 minutes to play.
Rasho Nesterovic had nine points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota,
which shot 49 percent (43-of-88), including 9-of-20 from the
arc, and held a 47-43 rebounding edge.
Lue had 15 points and eight assists for Washington, which shot
42.5 percent (37-of-87).