Kevin Garnett has received a plethora of standing ovations in the Target Center since getting traded to Boston in 2007, and every time he's come back and played, he's won. That ended tonight, and it all happened pretty quickly.
The Timberwolves left no doubt tonight, blowing out the Brooklyn Nets at a score of 111-81. The win improves the Wolves' record to 8-6, while the Nets fall to a somewhat shocking 3-9 start to the season. This ends a 2-game losing skid for Minnesota, who needed a big win to g
It's the Wolves' first win against a Kevin Garnett-led team, with Garnett actually on the floor playing. It breaks a 7 game skid that dates back to 2007. A nice tribute was done for him on the jumbo tron early in the game, resulting in a loud ovation. Garnett graciously acknowledged the crowd as they applauded, bringing on a pretty cool moment.
"I'm glad I didn't have to play him in his prime, he was something else," Kevin Love said following the game. "He's a Hall of Fame player, he's the Big Ticket. You just haven't seen any players like him before, and you probably never will again."
Even with the high praise, it was Kevin Love who won the heavily marketed "Battle of the Kevins", finishing with 17 points, 16 rebounds (11 of them coming in the first quarter), and 4 assists in just 27 minutes. Garnett went 4-6 with 8 points and 8 boards in just 20 minutes of action.
A flagrant/technical foul combo was given out to Kevin Garnett in the third quarter after some chippy play with Kevin Love. It's nothing new for anyone who has seen Garnett over the past decade. His trash talking and means of self-motivation can get the best of him sometimes, and it did on that play.
The Nets' game plan was clearly centered around Garnett denying Love the ball. Adelman and the Wolves picked up on it quickly and took advantage of the opening inside, giving Nikola Pekovic lots of opportunities around the hoop. Pek finished the night with 15 points and 7 boards on 5-12 shooting in 27 minutes.
"(Garnett) didn't want Kevin (Love) to score, he just stayed with him the whole time," Wolves head coach Rick Adelman said following the game. "We talked about it at halftime, we talked about it at timeouts to use Kevin. Kevin just kept telling guys to come off him."
All five starters finished in double figures for the Wolves, but only Kevin Martin went over the 30-minute mark (31). K-Mart didn't shoot particularly well until the third quarter, and finished 6-16 overall with 17 points. Rubio and Brewer, strangely enough, were the two starters who shot 50 percent or high from beyond the arc tonight. Ricky went 2-3 from deep and had 10 points and 8 assists. Brewer shot 3-6 from outside (all from the baseline) and finished with 15 points of his own.
Winning the first three quarters handily, they were able to concede a 2-point loss in the fourth quarter while their starting five (plus J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham, for the most part) sat and rested up for the second half of a back-to-back. They led grew to as much as 37, and they only trailed at 2-0 and 3-5 in the opening minutes.
Joe Johnson and Anrday Blatche were the only two Nets players to get into any sort of a rhythm for Brooklyn. Johnson was 6-10 with 15 points, while Blatche was 7-14 with 16. Past that, nobody could really get going, including Paul Pierce. The Nets came into tonight's game without 4 key pieces, but their problems were there before the injuries started to pile up. It will be interesting to watch this team as the season goes on.
The Wolves will head out immediately to face the Rockets in Houston for the other end of a back-to-back. The game will start at 7pm CST, and will be on both FS North and NBA TV.
It's been talked about in recent days that teams with the ability to run and play physical at the same time have had an easier time with the Wolves. This is not one of those teams. With two of the best defensive bigs in the game in Dwight Howard and Omer Asik waiting in the paint, they'll have to come to play physically. Houston icoming off three days rest and playing on their home floor is just icing on the cake.
"Of course," Kevin Martin joked, referencing the teams' difference in schedules.