After a warm applause from the crowd at the start of the game, Kevin Garnett stepped onto the court and made the first shot of the game. As easy as that shot was the lead was a little harder to maintain. After that the Minnesota Timberwolves took off running and easily beat the Nets 11-81. This is the first time the Wolves beat Garnett since he left Minnesota.
Kevin Love had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in just 28 minutes and Nikola Pekovic had 15 points and seven rebounds as the Wolves blew the game open after Garnett received a technical and a flagrant foul for getting physical with Love in the paint. The testy exchange ignited a 16-0 run in the third quarter for Minnesota.
Garnett finished the night with an unexciting eight points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes. The $190 million aging Nets were no match for the younger, faster Timberwolves. Mikhail Prokhorov’s team has lost four in a row and seven of its last eight to now fall to 3-9.
“We created this monster. We’ve got to deal with it,” Garnett seethed. “You’re going to have the business of basketball come into play I’m sure and management is probably going to do what they’ve got to do, but that’s out of our hands. We’ve got to control our own destiny, who we are as individuals and players. So like I said, for the fifth time, look at yourself and try to fix this thing.”
Andray Blatche had 16 points and Joe Johnson 15 for the Nets, who turned it over 20 times.
The Nets played without Deron Williams (sprained left ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms), Brook Lopez (sprained left ankle) and Jason Terry (bruised left knee). Friday night was the third time they’ve lost by at least 21 points this season; this is certainly stunning to NBA fans after their summer of white hot trades and signings.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Garnett said. “I don’t think there’s a happy person in here or a guy who’s smiling. There’s nothing to be smiling about right now.”
They were down big early thanks to a horrendous first quarter in which they shot 21 percent and turned the ball over nine times. Love took it to them with nine points and 11 rebounds in the first 12 minutes, but things really got out of hand in the third quarter.
Garnett has always had his way with Love and the Wolves, and he tried to bully them again on Friday night.
Love responded in the third, swatting Garnett’s hands away, and KG reacted with a forearm shiver to Love’s chest. Garnett received a technical and a flagrant, and the Wolves scored six points on the possession after Kevin Martin finished it with a 3-pointer for a 65-43 lead.
“That’s kind of vintage KG, just tried to get himself going, himself into the right mind frame,” Love said. “I just didn’t really care.”
The Wolves dumped on the Nets from there, with Ricky Rubio hitting a 3 and blowing past Paul Pierce for an easy layup and a 75-43 lead. Minnesota led by as many as 37 points, and an overwhelmed Nets coach Jason Kidd pulled Garnett and most of the rest of his starters with about three minutes to play in the third.
“We wanted to finish it,” said Corey Brewer, who had 15 points and 1 rebound for Minnesota. “We were up and we wanted to step on them.”
Coming back to Minnesota is always tough for KG. Garnett spent 12 years in Minnesota to start his career and was hurt when the Wolves traded him to Boston to start a rebuilding project in 2007. Six years and two teams later, the strong feelings remain.
During a break in the game in the first quarter, the Wolves played a highlight reel and announced his accomplishments over the loud speaker. A thunderous standing ovation ensued, and Garnett got off the bench, tapped his heart and waved to the crowd in an extremely rare departure from ultra-intense demeanor during games.
Up next for the Wolves is the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston at 7:00 PM CST. You can watch it on Fox Sports North or NBA TV or listen at WCCO 830 AM.