Garnett, Wolves Hand Clippers First Loss
Minnesota 93, L.A. Clippers 78
MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 7 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett enjoyed the last laugh against former teammate Sam Cassell and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Garnett collected 22 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves posted a 93-78 victory over the surprising Clippers.
Minnesota had the ball in the waning seconds of the extra session, but Garnett missed a short jumper at the buzzer.
"We came out with good energy, we were fired up," Garnett said. "We didn't like the way we performed on the road. Tonight was a statement for ourselves, and we came out and played well."
The eight-time All-Star left little doubt on Monday, scoring 14 points in the second half and coming just two assists shy of recording his 17th career triple-double.
Minnesota started the game with balanced aggression, running in transition and uncharacteristically getting to the free throw line 11 times to build a 26-17 lead in the first quarter.
But the Wolves connected on just 40 percent of their shots in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing, 45-44.
"I challenged them again to bring forth the defense (at halftime)," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said. "That was our goal going into the game, that we must become a better defensive team."
Minnesota battled to take a 57-53 lead midway through the third quarter, but Quinton Ross nailed a jumper to halve Los Angeles' deficit.
Garnett took over from there, however, scoring eight points over the next 7 1/2 minutes as the Wolves went on an 18-4 run to grab a 75-59 lead with nine minutes to play.
"Defense is what got us back in the game," Garnett said. "In the third quarter, we turned it up another notch. (Casey) came in and jumped the bus at halftime. The morale was down, but we came out and turned it up a bit and never looked back."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 15 points and Anthony Carter chipped in with 11 off the bench for Minnesota, which has won both of its games at Target Center this year.
Cassell struggled in his return to Minnesota, scoring just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting. After helping to lead the Wolves to an appearance in the Western Conference finals in his two-year tenure here, Cassell was traded to the Clippers this offseason for Marko Jaric.
Elton Brand scored 26 points for Los Angeles, which missed its chance at the first 4-0 start since 1985-86.
"It's disappointing especially once we had a big chance at times," Brand said. "We didn't play up to our capabilities. We knew they weren't going to roll over and let us win, especially after we just beat them at home. Once we had that halftime lead, I thought we had a chance."