Seattle 99, Minnesota 88

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 14 (AP) -- Nearing the end of a five-game road trip, the Seattle SuperSonics feel as if they are becoming one on the court.

Chris Wilcox had 19 points and 11 rebounds to help the Sonics overcome a sluggish start and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-88 on Friday night.

Kurt Thomas added 18 for Seattle, which won its second straight on the road, and fourth game in six starts overall. Kevin Durant, Luke Ridnour and Damien Wilkins also scored in double figures.

"We're starting to play together as a team,'' Wilcox said. "Guys are starting to look for other guys that are open and we are starting to move the ball more.''

Al Jefferson had 22 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota. Rashad McCants had 17 points off the bench.

The Timberwolves (3-18) have lost eight of nine, and tied the 1991-92 team for the worst 21-game start in franchise history. That team finished 15-67.

"We are tired of hearing that we deserve a better record,'' said Marko Jaric, who had 10 points for the Wolves. "We need to understand, have a sense of urgency right now, and we need to start winning some games. How? I don't know how. We need to start stealing these games. Do something. This is really a tough one, and I don't know.''

The Sonics (7-17) came to Minnesota for a matchup of teams with the two worst records in the Western Conference hoping to build momentum off a 117-110 win in New York on Wednesday. Instead, they found themselves down by 15 points after the opening quarter, in which Seattle shot just 23.8 percent.

But it was a team effort that reversed the fortunes.

"I thought Kurt Thomas was unbelievable ... when he was on the floor we were very good,'' Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Chris Wilcox played very well. Our point guards were great. We had a lot of individuals that played well, and after the first quarter I thought we played defense well for three quarters and we hung in there pretty well on the road.''

Minnesota couldn't hang onto the ball much of the night, tying a season-high with 21 turnovers, and shooting just 39.3 percent, in part because of the Sonics' defense.

"I thought we came out and really dictated play in the man,'' said Minnesota coach Randy Wittman. "They went zone and we just, for whatever reason, became so tentative against them. We didn't continue to attack. We passed the ball around the perimeter. We didn't look inside anymore.''

The Sonics opened the second quarter with a 19-4 run to tie the game at 30. Wilcox had 10 points during the spurt, including two layups after feeds from Ridnour.

"It's good to get out there and play with him again. That rhythm is slowly coming back,'' said Ridnour, who played 25 minutes, the most in his four games back after missing 12 games with a left quadriceps strain.

Aided by eight Minnesota turnovers, a 18-2 third quarter run put the Sonics up 63-52.

Still, the Wolves only trailed 77-72 early in the fourth quarter.

But Thomas, who received five stitches in his lip after taking a forearm, tipped in a missed free throw by Wilcox to make it 85-76 three minutes later.

Wilcox followed a Ridnour miss with a layup for a 91-80 lead, just before Thomas hit a long jumper with 4:41 to play. Thomas added his first dunk of the year with 47.8 seconds to play, letting out a yell in the process.

"We've been getting off to slow starts every game of this trip, but we've been fighting, trying to get back into every game,'' Thomas said. "We've been covering for each other on the defensive end and been sharing the ball on the offensive end. I hope we continue to do that tomorrow night against Utah.''

Notes: Seattle G Delonte West missed his sixth straight game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Carlesimo said he hopes West can return "in the near future.'' ... Minnesota G Greg Buckner missed his fourth straight game with a strained right calf. ... Wittman is 0-8 lifetime vs. Seattle. He's 0-9 vs. Philadelphia and Toronto. ... Minnesota is 0-12 when trailing after 3 quarters and 0-16 when failing to score in triple figures. Seattle is 3-11 when scoring under 100 points.

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