New coach, same result: Wolves fall short against Chicago, 87-83

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) &045; Ben Gordon had 21 points and eight rebounds in a reserve role, and the Chicago Bulls spoiled Kevin McHale’s first game as Minnesota’s coach with a 87-83 victory over the Timberwolves on Sunday.

Eddy Curry scored 17 points and Kirk Hinrich added 15 points for the Bulls, whose 20-2 run bridging the first and second quarters was ultimately the difference.

Latrell Sprewell scored 26 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost eight of their last nine games. Kevin Garnett had 23 points and 14 rebounds, but he missed three shots in the final minute.

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McHale, who fired his longtime friend Flip Saunders on Saturday, was on the sideline for the first time since his Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics ended in 1993. As Minnesota’s vice president of basketball operations, McHale &045; fed up with the Wolves’ unexpected struggles &045; made the move to try to jump-start one of the league’s most disappointing teams.

Chicago’s spurt lasted more than eight minutes, a span in which Minnesota went without a field goal. The drought started when McHale substituted Michael Olowokandi for Garnett with 2:49 left in the first.

The Wolves, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, crept back and regained the lead, 77-76, on a jump shot in the lane by Olowokandi midway through the fourth quarter.

Gordon &045; who shot 2-for-10 from the field in the second half &045; tipped in his own miss to put the Bulls in front 82-81 with 2:10 left.

Garnett missed a tough jump shot in traffic and then, soaring high to grab his own rebound, watched his dunk attempt bounce out. Hinrich caught the carom and raced the other way, getting fouled and making one of two free throws with 33 seconds left.