MINNEAPOLIS, March 19 (Ticker) --
The Minnesota Timberwolves ended their losing streak and they didn't care who was the victim.
scored 20 points to lead seven players in double figures as the Timberwolves snapped a season-high seven-game slide with a 112-80 over the reeling Toronto Raptors, who have lost 17 of their last 18 games.
The Timberwolves (41-26) were contending for their first Midwest Division title before the skid, which has dumped them in sixth place in the Western Conference. They had shot poorly and played sloppily during the losing streak but snapped out of it in this one, shooting 54 percent (44-of-82) from the field and committing just 10 turnovers.
"We played with a much better rhythm -- good concentration, good momentum, good flow," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We've had two other times this season that we've played worse than these last two weeks. Hopefully, now we'll build off this win for the last 15 games."
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Rasho Nesterovic was the only one of seven in double figures to record a double-double.
"The swagger has always been there, but it's not as noticeable when you lose," Garnett said. "Everybody needed to have the same level of confidence."
Minnesota took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and held a 55-50 halftime edge. Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak
scored six points each in a 20-4 run that opened the second half and turned it into a rout.
One of the Wolves in double figures was guard Robert Pack
, who was signed Monday for the rest of the season. Pack immediately was inserted as the backup point guard and had 12 points and five assists in 21 minutes as the first player off the bench.
"Robert did a nice job of running the offense and picking his spots," Saunders said. "Pack will play significant minutes. He's a very good on-the-ball defender."
"I have been on teams with losing streaks where guys are blaming each other and hanging their heads," Pack said. "I never felt that coming in here. There was a lot of energy in practice and guys being vocal. You usually have that when you are on a winning streak, but these guys still had it when they had lost seven straight."
As has been the pattern during their slide, the Raptors (30-38) showed very little fight and fell four games behind Charlotte in the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
"Once it started to get away from us, I could see the confidence level go down -- way down," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "That's when you have to have some real resolve about yourself."
Once again, one of the prime culprits was superstar Vince Carter
, who was held to 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Toronto shot less than 39 percent (32-of-83).
"I'm disappointed and frustrated about a lot of things right now," Carter said. "I just have to breathe and hope it gets better soon -- in the near future, like tomorrow."
A 3-pointer by Chauncey Billups
, who had 11 points and eight assists, gave the Wolves the lead for good at 18-15 with 5:46 left in the first quarter. Minnesota held a 26-21 lead after one quarter and a 55-50 advantage at halftime.
Garnett and Szczerbiak scored six points each in the burst that opened the third quarter. A jumper by Garnett made it 75-54 with 3:50 remaining and put the Raptors on their heels.
"Once they saw a breakthrough, their momentum and confidence level increased," Toronto center Hakeem Olajuwon
Toronto got no closer than 17 points thereafter. Minnesota led by as many as 34 points late in the game.
"It's good to get a win like this and to get the team back playing at a high level," Szczerbiak said. "We need to keep our guys playing with confidence. When we have that, we're a very good team." Rasho Nesterovic
had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which held a 46-35 edge on the boards. Joe Smith
and Anthony Peeler
scored 12 points each and Szczerbiak added 11. Morris Peterson
scored 19 points and Keon Clark
added 18 for the Raptors.