MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Dwane Casey has been harping on his Minnesota Timberwolves to decrease their turnovers and increase their free throw attempts.
It’s amazing what happens when they listen.
Garnett’s 500th career double-double helped snap a three-game losing streak and Wally Szczerbiak added 25 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which only had 10 turnovers after averaging over 17 a game in their last 14.
“The stat that jumps out on paper for me is the turnovers,” Casey said. “That’s huge. We took care of the basketball and that gave us more bullets on the offensive end.”
The Bulls went nearly six minutes without a field goal in the fourth quarter and struggled offensively for most of the game against the Wolves, who had just three wins in their previous 14 games.
Andres Nocioni scored 16 of his 23 points in the fourth and Kirk Hinrich had 17 points, a career-high 17 assists and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who had won three in a row to bounce back from a season-high eight-game losing streak.
The Timberwolves shot just 39 percent from the field, but outrebounded the Bulls 46-34 and made 35 free throws to Chicago’s 16.
“We shot the ball well enough to win,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “We just couldn’t stop fouling.”
Before the game, Casey acknowledged that the team’s latest slide was beginning to wear on him and the players, particularly Garnett.
Facing the prospect of falling three games below .500 for the first time since December 1999, the Wolves had good reason to wear long faces.
But they responded on Wednesday night with a spirited effort, and Garnett led the charge in the fourth quarter.
After starting the game 5-for-13, Garnett was 3-for-3 to start the fourth, including a turnaround jumper on the baseline and a three-point play that gave the Timberwolves an 86-77 lead with just over 4 minutes to go.
The Bulls pulled within six on a 3-pointer by Ben Gordon, but the Bulls’ fourth-quarter specialist fouled out on the ensuing possession and finished with 19 points.
Michael Sweetney hit a short jumper in the lane with 14 seconds to go that cut Minnesota’s lead to 93-91, but Szczerbiak hit two free throws and the Bulls couldn’t get any closer.
“This was a game we had to have as far as momentum goes,” Garnett said. “This came at the right time for us. We were as aggressive as we’ve been in a while.”
The Bulls had an opportunity to take control of the game in the second quarter, when Minnesota went scoreless over the first five minutes and made just one of its first 15 shots.
But Chicago wasn’t much better, going 5-for-15 from the floor in the period and trailed 43-42 at halftime.
“I didn’t notice them stepping up the defensive pressure,” said Gordon, who missed nine shots in a row after not hitting the rim during a 6-for-6 start. “I just noticed my missing shots.”
Garnett’s double-double total is second among active players to Shaquille O’Neal’s 640. He just missed his 17th career triple-double. … Bulls C Tyson Chandler came off the bench for the second straight game after missing three games with a right ankle sprain. He fouled out in 16 minutes and scored six points. … Wolves PG Anthony Carter came to the game clad in colorful attire with shoes that were hot pink, blue and yellow and bright yellow corduroy pants. … Casey received a technical, his first of the season, for arguing a call by referee Eric Lewis with 7 minutes to go in the fourth. “The cheapest technical I’ve ever gotten,” Casey said.