Garnett’s Late Heroics Thwart Miles, Blazers
Minnesota 90, Portland 86
MINNEAPOLIS. Nov. 2 (Ticker) -- Darius Miles put on quite a show for his new coach. However, it was Kevin Garnettand Richie Frahm who delivered a win for their new boss.
Garnett and Frahm scored 18 points apiece, combining for seven in the final minute, as the Minnesota Timberwolves hung on for a 90-86 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers in the season opener for both teams.
"This was an excellent team effort," Casey said. "We were a little tight. We had some first-game jitters. It's good to get it out of our system."
"We gave (Casey) a game ball and congratulated him," Garnett said. "Wins don't come easy in this league. We told him that we're going to fight for him. That's our identity. We can't make every shot but we're going to play hard."
Miles led the young Trail Blazers by collecting 32 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three blocks. He scored six points during a 9-0 burst, highlighted by a steal and layup with 1:18 remaining to shave Portland's deficit to 82-81.
"They underestimated us at the beginning of the game and we came out hyped and ready to win," Miles said. "They made a run and we got down, then we made a run to come back."
"He has the potential to play like that every night," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Whether he gets 32, I don't know, but I want the aggressiveness and the attitude that he played with tonight."
Garnett, who also had seven rebounds and seven assists, responded with a long jumper with 55 second remaining - Minnesota's first points since the 6:07 mark.
"We struggled a little offensively in the fourth quarter, but our defense was good throughout the game," Casey said.
The 2004 MVP, Garnett followed with a jump hook in the paint to make it 86-82 with 36 seconds to go.
"KG is their go-to guy," Portland center Joel Przybilla said. "He's anyone's go-to guy. I tried to force him off the block (on that last shot) and he made a tough move and a good shot. You've got to give all the credit to him."
"(Garnett) amazes me," Miles said. "I'm such a fan of his. It's a challenge to play against somebody you've looked up to since high school."
Frahm, a former Trail Blazer who was 5-of-6 from the arc, hit three free throws in the final 12 seconds to seal the win.
The free agent guard connected on 4-of-4 from 3-point range in the final 5:11 of the first half to help Minnesota turn an 11-point second-quarter deficit into a 48-45 halftime lead which it never relinquished.
"A guy like me has got to come off the bench in short minutes and make things happen," Frahm said. "Tonight just happened to be a good night."
"In practice and in preseason, (Frahm) has felt like he hasn't shot the ball well," Garnett said. "We have continued to encourage him to shoot the ball. Tonight, every time he shot we felt like it was going in. The majority of them did. I was happy for him. He had a great game."
Trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued season, power forward Zach Randolph collected 18 points and 13 rebounds but could not stop the Trail Blazers from losing Nate McMillan's first game as coach.
"I thought we played hard," McMillan said. "That's the one thing we've asked of these guys, to play hard and play for 48 minutes. We just didn't make some plays. We didn't move the ball and we turned the ball over a couple times there at the end of the game."