MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a day where bad news hit the Washington Wizards on two fronts. Here at the Target Center they learned that back spasms would keep forward Juwan Howard out of the lineup. And back home Gheorghe Muresan, on the injured list since the start of the season, had his right ankle put in a cast that will stay in place for six weeks.
Still, there was a game to be played. And the Wizards took care in overtime what they failed to do in regulation, with Rod Strickland's jumper with 27 seconds left providing the winning points in last night's 91-88 victory.
Strickland scored 21 points and had eight assists, Chris Webber had 22 points and 17 rebounds and Terry Davis 11 points and 11 rebounds as the Wizards won their second straight to even their record at 4-4.
Minnesota (4-3) got 24 points and 10 assists from Stephon Marbury, and 20 points and 19 rebounds from Kevin Garnett. But the Timberwolves still couldn't avoid their second tough loss in a row at home, with David Robinson's tip beating them at the buzzer Tuesday.
Strickland didn't shoot the ball particularly well (nine of 23), and he missed two shots in the final seconds of regulation that could have won the game. But he scored six of Washington's nine points in the five-minute overtime.
With the game tied at 88, Strickland backed Marbury into the lane and hit a short jumper with 27 seconds left. That gave Washington a 90-88 lead and proved to be the winning basket.
Marbury had a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime, but his three-point attempt was long.
The loss of Howard figured to be big, as the Washington forward has averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in eight career games against Minnesota. And the Timberwolves looked as if they were going to take advantage of the Washington loss early as they built a 10-point lead less than four minutes into the game.
But, like the Wizards, the Timberwolves are a young team that has yet to develop any type of consistency. Behind the aggressive play of reserves Darvin Ham, Ben Wallace and Tracy Murray, the Wizards rebounded to take a 10-point lead in the second quarter, eventually going into the half tied at 46.
It was a case of each team getting big halves from their big money players. For the Wizards that came from $59 million man Webber, who put together a well-rounded 20 minutes in the first half: 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
For the Timberwolves, Garnett, who signed a $126 million contract extension before the season, scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Garnett helped the Timberwolves get off to their hot start, hitting on three of Minnesota's first four field goals.
All three of those shots came on mid-range jumpers as Garnett demonstrated his improved range -- although it was somewhat surprising that the 6-foot-11 forward didn't even attempt to establish an inside offensive presence.
The Wizards would recover, later pulling to within 21-19 after a three-pointer by Strickland with 3: 00 left. Washington trailed 28-23 at the end of the period.
What looked like a team with little offense at the start of the second quarter (Murray, Ham, Wallace, Chris Whitney and Harvey Grant) sparked a 17-2 run for the Wizards to open the second quarter. A free throw by Webber gave Washington its biggest lead of the half, 40-30, with 5: 51 left. But Washington cooled off and the teams were tied at 46 at the half.
The third quarter played out the same way -- back and forth. Minnesota led by as many as 56-50 after a three-pointer by Chris Carr with 6: 27 left.
The Timberwolves would go into the final quarter trailing 67-64.
Pub Date: 11/14/97