WASHINGTON -- Agent Zero left the locker room early, leaving an opening for a teammate to seize the spotlight and claim a new nickname: Mr. Fifty.
Gilbert Arenas, trying his best to shoot himself out of a slump, launched a few bricks and rattled a few home Tuesday night on his way to 38 points as the Washington Wizards beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-100.
Meanwhile, DeShawn Stevenson played a steady supporting role, scoring a season-high 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting to raise his field goal percentage to 50.1 percent. When the colorful Arenas uncharacteristically dressed quickly and departed before reporters arrived, Stevenson was more than happy to gloat at his teammate's expense.
"He's 'Hibachi,' but I'm 'Mr. Fifty,"' Stevenson said. "Put that in the newspaper so he'll get mad."
Stevenson, who also liked the idea of the nickname "Inspector Fifty," then declared that the only teammates who can talk to him are Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, who happen to be the only ones shooting 50 percent or better. Arenas is shooting a mere 42 percent.
"Because Gilbert, with his swag, I don't want to hear his mouth all day, so that's the only way I could win," said Stevenson, who is still smarting from losing to Arenas in a post-practice 3-point shooting contest that has become a YouTube favorite. "He definitely can't talk to me."
Arenas, who has struggled with his shot all month, started passing up jumpers and relied on layups and free throws for most of his points. He went 12-for-24 from the field and 13-for-15 from the line but made only 1 of 8 from 3-point range -- including an air ball -- and is 10-for-57 behind the arc over his last seven games.
"He started a little bit rusty," coach Eddie Jordan said. "But he got going when we needed him."
Two people who were definitely talking Tuesday night were Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Washington's Andray Blatche. Blatche grew up idolizing Garnett and this was their first on-court meeting. The second-year player was nervous but held his own, tying a career-high with 12 rebounds while holding Garnett to a slow start while the Wizards built a big first-half lead.
Garnett finished with 26 points on 8-for-17 shooting and 13 rebounds, but his night also included two traveling violations, a palming violation and a technical foul for defensive three seconds.
"He was trying to get in my head. There was some pretty good trash-talking, but at the end of the game, he said, 'Good game,"' Blatche said. "I am just excited to go home and watch the game over and over again."
Asked about Blatche, Garnett said: "Next question." Instead, Garnett talked about a slow first-quarter start that included seven Minnesota turnovers, which he attributed to the All-Star layoff.
"What you saw was the vacation rest," Garnett said. "We didn't take care of the ball. I probably had like three or four turnovers myself. A little jump, eagerness. Once we got going, we settled in and started to do some things."
Caron Butler added 15 points for the Wizards, who led from start to finish to win their second straight and improve to 3-4 without captain Antawn Jamison, who will miss at least five more games with a knee injury.
Ricky Davis scored 24 points, and Mike James added 20 for the Timberwolves, who have lost five straight road games, part of a 1-9 skid away from home. Minnesota cut a 16-point deficit to four in the third quarter, but couldn't sustain the momentum enough to challenge for the lead.
"You got any ideas for me?" coach Randy Wittman said. "Don't turn the ball over on the road. You've got to play better on the road to put yourself in a situation to win. We're just not getting it done."
- It had to happen: Arenas' habit of yelling "Hibachi" when taking a jump shot now has a promotional tie-in. During a second-quarter timeout, the Wizards gave away an Arenas-autographed hibachi grill to the fan with the best sign.
- Jordan offered a timetable of 1½-3 weeks for Jamison's return.
- Need more evidence of Jamison's importance as the team's locker room leader? When Jordan was asked if he named an interim captain in Jamison's absence, the coach said: "I sort of named somebody, but I forgot who it was."
- Minnesota opens a season-long, five-game homestand Wednesday against Charlotte.
- Thomas, who rejoined the Wizards on Monday after a two-game suspension for punching Haywood in practice, scored eight points in 23 minutes.
- The teams meet again Sunday in Minnesota.