WASHINGTON (AP)—Gilbert Arenas did not miss a beat after participating in the NBA’s All-Star weekend.
“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.”
The Wizards rallied from a 19-point deficit, eclipsing their 17-point comeback during a 94-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 25.
“Phenomenal,” Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said of Arenas. “He’s playing the way he’s been playing all year. 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, man.”
Arenas also had five rebounds and five assists. The Wizards are 16-9 this season when he scores 30 or more points.
Caron Butler added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Jamison had 10 points and eight rebounds to help the Wizards snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 14-6 in their last 20 games.
“Gilbert, Caron and myself have got it going offensively,” Jamison said. “We know that night in and night out that we can do it offensively, it’s just that on the defensive end we have to really give the effort 100 percent and really make it tough on our opponents. Once we do that, we really put ourselves in position to win games.”
“I see the same Kevin,” Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said of the nine-time All-Star. “Kevin wants to win; he wants to attack. I see him everyday 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.”
The Timberwolves, who have lost eight of their last 10 games, dropped to 8-18 on the road.
Arenas scored eight straight points to give Washington a 78-71 lead with 7:02 remaining, and Jamison’s 3-pointer gave the Wizards an 82-74 lead with 2:54 left.
Washington took control with a 29-5 run in the second quarter, during which the Timberwolves shot 19 percent (4-for-21).
“They got a lot more aggressive, and they never looked back,” Garnett said.
“We just want to go out and play the way that we did in the second quarter,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said of the Wizards, who have won eight straight at home. “We need to start winning these games on the road.”
Garnett hit back-to-back jumpers from the top of the key to get the Timberwolves within 54-49 midway through the third quarter. Arenas had four points as the Wizards responded with a 12-2 run and took a 15-point lead late in the third.
Antonio Daniels’ three-point play with less than a second remaining gave Washington a 46-41 halftime lead.
Garnett made his first three shots and the Timberwolves connected on six of their first seven to grab an early 12-0 lead. Garnett’s dunk made it 24-11 Minnesota with 3:16 remaining in the first quarter. Davis, who scored 14 first-quarter points, gave Minnesota a 32-15 lead with a buzzer-beater to end the period.
“We got out playing the way we wanted to play basketball in the first quarter,” Casey said. “In the second quarter, we hit a road block. We stopped being aggressive and started settling for jump shots. We only got to the free-throw line nine times. That tells me that we weren’t being aggressive.”
Michael Ruffin started at center for the Wizards in place of Brendan Haywood, benched for violating an undisclosed team rule. Haywood had nine points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes. “I wasn’t late,” Haywood said. “I didn’t cuss anybody out. It was just a coach’s decision. It was just something that had to be done. If he’s not saying anything about it, I’m not saying anything about it because it wasn’t a negative thing.”