MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to the best start in their history in part because they've taken advantage of the new NBA rule allowing zone defenses.
They showed the Seattle SuperSonics they can play the old way, too, in a 108-83 victory Tuesday night.
Coach Flip Saunders told the team "we're going man-to-man right off the bat," the Timberwolves' Wally Szczerbiak said. "We wanted to establish that we can play man-to-man, show Seattle we can do it and show the referees we can do it."
Guarded most of the game by defensive standout Gary Payton, Szczerbiak scored 20 points and limited Payton to 15 points.
The other half of Minnesota's backcourt, Terrell Brandon, also did his part. After Seattle shooting guard Brent Barry scored 31 points when the teams met a week ago, Brandon held him to three points and just three shots Tuesday.
"Last week, Terrell was really focusing for Gary," Szczerbiak said. "Brent kind of snuck up on the team. Most of his shots were against the zone. We didn't use that tonight. We stuck to man-to-man. We knew where he was the whole time. Terrell did a great job on him."
Brandon also was successful getting the ball to Szczerbiak, who was 6-for-7 in a 14-point first quarter.
"I think I've really earned the right to become a big-time shooter and a big-time scorer in this league," Szczerbiak said. "I've been begging for this opportunity."
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