MINNEAPOLIS -- Needing relief from a 10-game losing streak that had dragged through December, the Washington Bullets got it last night from the Minnesota Timberwolves and an unusual source: defense.
The NBA's second-worst defense held an opponent under 100 points for just the sixth time this season, and Washington's frontcourt dominated the inside, giving the Bullets a 99-84 victory.
Don MacLean scored 24 points and Kevin Duckworth had season highs in points (17) and rebounds (12) as the Bullets built an 86-70 lead with eight minutes to play. They cruised from there to their first victory since Nov. 27 and their second road win of the season.
A four-game road trip isn't usually the best remedy for a 10-game losing streak, but with games at the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento and Milwaukee after last night's game in Minnesota, the Bullets saw an opportunity.
While the Wolves are off to the best start in the brief history of the franchise at 8-14, their 3-8 home mark ranked 25th in the NBA heading into last night's games, and they had lost five of their past six at home.
The Wolves seems to step aside for the Bullets' frontcourt of Tom Gugliotta, MacLean and Duckworth.
They combined for 33 points in the first half as the Bullets built a 52-47 halftime edge, despite a combined 4-for-13 performance from guards Michael Adams and Rex Chapman.
Gugliotta scored six points in an eight-point run that gave the Bullets a 12-6 lead, but the Bullets had trouble with Christian Laettner, whose 13 first-quarter points gave the Wolves a 31-29 lead at the end of the period.
Duckworth controlled the inside early, scoring 11 points and grabbing four rebounds in the first quarter.
Chapman and Adams warmed up in the third quarter, combining for six points in a 12-4 run that expanded the Bullets' lead to 72-61 with four minutes left in the period.