Minnesota 101, Seattle 82

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 29 (AP) -- Though he never got his shot going, Kevin Garnett played plenty of defense and deftly passed his way out of trouble to find his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates.

The Seattle SuperSonics were starving for such togetherness.

Ricky Davis scored 24 points and Mark Blount added 18 to help the Timberwolves beat the sleepy SuperSonics 101-82 on Friday night.

"I'll take blowouts any time,'' said Garnett, who went 4-for-15 from the field and barely extended his double-digit scoring string to 349 games. Coach Dwane Casey, respectful of his star's streak, removed Garnett once he reached a season-low 10 points with a short turnaround midway through the fourth quarter.

With 13 rebounds, five blocks and five assists, Garnett did his part to make up for all those bricks. The guards kept proper spacing and got open on the weak side, and the entire team maintained an aggressive approach against a vulnerable opponent.

Ray Allen returned for Seattle after missing Thursday night's game following the birth of his son, but neither he nor the rest of his teammates really showed up. The Sonics shot a season-low 35.2 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 28 points with less than 8 minutes left. Allen finished with 14 points.

Seattle barely made it to the arena in time, after waiting at the Denver airport for 2+ hours Thursday night during snowy weather only to head back to the team hotel for a 4 a.m. bedtime and morning flight to Minnesota.

Never mind the travel excuses, though.

"I think that our mental effort wasn't there tonight,'' Allen said. "We didn't play with each other. We didn't make the extra plays. We just were selfish. Regardless of what the coaching staff had us doing, regardless of what happened defensively, offensively we were just selfish. We just made the 'me' play all night. That's what's contagious.''

Sonics coach Bob Hill beamed before the game about the promise and progress of rookie center Mouhamed Sene, a 6-foot-11 native of Senegal who was drafted 10th overall. Sene, who played last season in Belgium, started for the third time after totaling only 53 minutes and nine points in Seattle's first 30 games.

Sene logged just eight minutes, all in the first quarter, because he became sick, but the coach was pleased by what he saw.

"They aren't going to get any better unless they are on the floor,'' Hill said.

Blount's limited skills - he's a 7-footer who relies mostly on mid-range jump shots - have been apparent since he arrived in a big trade with Boston last January, but this was one of his best games in a Minnesota uniform. He finished 8-for-12 from the field, grabbed nine rebounds and played decent defense, continuing a recent surge.

"He's in a rhythm,'' said Timberwolves rookie Craig Smith, who had 10 points.

Hill sent a small lineup out for the second half, with Nick Collison instead of Sene, and Johan Petro - who had 12 points - played the majority of the post-halftime minutes at center.

Losers of eight of their last 10 games, the Sonics showed their sluggishness. They fell behind 28-18 late in the first quarter and trailed by double digits most of the rest of the night. Allen, who shot 4-for-16, was well-guarded by Trenton Hassell and Marko Jaric, and Seattle was outrebounded 56-38.

"It's the first time this year I think we really gave in,'' Collison said. "We gave in to fatigue or gave in to the game just not going our way. We can't do that.''

Though starting point guard Mike James, whose wife gave birth to a daughter the day before, had another low-impact performance with five points in 21 minutes, the Wolves had plenty of perimeter production. Rookie Randy Foye had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists as Minnesota put together a rare complete game without melting down in at least one quarter.

Even with a mere six points at the half from Garnett, the Wolves held a 56-39 lead. Passing his way out of constant double teams was an important

"As long as they do that and we can pick 'em apart like that, we'll take it,'' Casey said.

Notes: Hill shrugged off the effects of the late night, at least for him. "I'm not a guy who requires a lot of sleep,'' he said. ... Minnesota's Rashad McCants, out since early-summer microfracture surgery on his right knee, has been practicing on a limited basis with the team - and could be ready to return in a couple of weeks. But Casey was cautious about putting a timetable on that, stressing that it will depend on how McCants responds to increased contact and activity.


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