Arenas Helps Wizards Rally Past Wolves
Washington 90, Minnesota 78
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas spearheaded a huge comeback. He also helped fend one off.
Arenas scored 34 points as the Washington Wizards rallied from a 19-point deficit en route to their eighth straight home victory, a 90-78 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We took daggers early, but we knew if we stayed with it that we would come back," Arenas said. "We just kept going at them, kept fighting, and believed in each other."
Ricky Davis scored 14 of his 25 points in the opening period as the Timberwolves, who had lost eight of 10 prior to the All-Star break, raced to a 32-17 lead after 12 minutes.
Minnesota scored the first two baskets of the second quarter as the lead grew to 19, but made just 2-of-19 shots the rest of the half.
"We got out playing the way we wanted to play basketball in the first quarter," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said. "In the second quarter, we hit a road block. We stopped being aggressive and started settling for jump shots."
Arenas, who played in his second consecutive All-Star Game on Sunday, scored 10 points in the second period as Washington outscored the visitors, 29-5, over the final 10-plus minutes of the session.
"Even though we had a four-day break, we still knew our principles," Arenas said. "Coach drilled in our heads what we did wrong the last two games all day today, so we knew what we had to do."
"He's playing the way he's been playing all year," said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, who scored just 10 points. "He got it going and he tried to let Caron (Butler) and myself get it going. We kind of struggled a little bit, but the guy's playing awesome."
Butler, who added 19 points and 12 rebounds, also was key as the Wizards built a 68-55 bulge late in the third quarter.
Rookie Rashad McCants scored five of his eight points as the Timberwolves clawed back with a 14-3 burst. Justin Reed, who scored four of his 10 during the surge, connected on a driving layup that cut Minnesota's deficit to 71-69 with 10:18 remaining.
Arenas responded by scoring seven of the game's next nine points to give Washington a seven-point advantage. The lead never was slimmer than four points thereafter.
"That was another All-Star type of performance, especially against a team like Minnesota," Jamison said. "Even though they're struggling, they're still a dangerous team. He came in and he didn't miss beat. That's why he's an All-Star and probably the best player on this team and one of the best in the league."
All-Star Kevin Garnett was limited to just 15 points for Minnesota, which has lost seven of its last nine road games.
"I see the same Kevin," Casey said. "Kevin wants to win. He wants to attack. I see him every day and I see the same passion. I thought tonight that they were double-teaming him and I think that's kind of what got him out of whack. Until we knock down shots and be aggressive and attack the rim, he's going to see that."