Created: 01/25/2013 9:10 PM KSTP.com By: Chris Long
John Wall had 14 points and five assists in his first start of the season, and the no-longer-last Washington Wizards finally hit double digits in wins Friday night with a 114-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Wall, who came off the bench for the first seven games after his return from a knee injury, had assists on the Wizards' first two baskets in a game in which Washington never trailed. He wowed the crowd with a nice spin move for a layup late in the first half and went 6 for 10 from the field in 21 minutes, his playing time still limited after missing 33 games with a stress injury to his left knee cap.
The Wizards are 5-3 since Wall's return after going 5-28 without him. They've won four straight at home and no longer sit at the bottom of the NBA, their 10-31 record a half-game better than the Charlotte Bobcats' 10-32.
Jordan Crawford added 19 points, and Bradley Beal had 16 points and a career-high four blocks for the Wizards, who shot a season-high 58 percent. Beal had the best sequence for anyone not named Wall: The rookie chased down Luke Ridnour to block a fast-break layup, crashed into the front row, got up and hit a jumper at the other end to make the score 70-51 in the third.
Derrick Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost six straight on the road and eight of nine overall. Ricky Rubio, who, like Wall, has been playing limited minutes after returning from a knee injury, had four points, six assists, five rebounds and five turnovers, a day after apologizing to acting coach Terry Porter for an outburst over the team's loss earlier this week to the Brooklyn Nets.
Rubio was upset that he sat out the final minutes of the Timberwolves' 91-83 loss Wednesday night. With head coach Rick Adelman away tending to his sick wife, Porter and Rubio met Thursday to clear the air.
"I don't think it ever was really an issue," Porter said. "He was frustrated like any player would be who wants to be playing the fourth quarter."
Rubio had been on a strict limit of 28 minutes per game since returning last month from reconstructive left knee surgery, but he played 31 minutes Friday night for the depleted Timberwolves, who are missing Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved - all with injuries.
The Wolves never made anything resembling a run to get back in the game after the first quarter. The Wizards led by four after the first, by 18 at halftime and by 18 after three.
Notes: Washington's 60 first-half points tied a season-high. ... The Wolves got to the free-throw line without much problem, but they converted only 20 of 33. ... With Wall's return to the starting five, the Wizards used their 15th starting lineup of the season. ... Wolves C Greg Stiemsma committed two fouls in 9 seconds in the first quarter, then picked up another quick one in the second quarter. He played only 18 minutes - but he finished with a career-high six assists.
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