Davis Strong In Debut As Wolves Top Rockets
Minnesota 96, Houston 92
HOUSTON, Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- One night after the Minnesota Timberwolves shook up their roster, Ricky Davis woke up their offense.
Davis scored 26 points in his team debut and Kevin Garnett added 15 of his 26 in the fourth quarter to lift the Timberwolves to a 96-92 victory over the Houston Rockets.
The deal sent former All-Star Wally Szczerbiak and two others to the Celtics but brought Minnesota a more explosive scoring option to play alongside Garnett. At least for one game, the combination flourished as the Timberwolves snapped a three-game skid, during which they averaged fewer than 85 points.
"I've wanted to be here for the past five years," Davis said. "It's going to be a dream come true to play with KG (Garnett)."
"I've always liked Ricky Davis from afar," said Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, who decided to start the newcomer only minutes before tip-off. "Sooner or later, it's going to happen. Might as well start him right now."
In the trade, Minnesota also acquired center Mark Blount, who contributed four points and four rebounds. Davis got only two hours sleep Thursday night and the pair played in the game without the benefit of a single practice with their new teammates.
"That shows real courage," McHale said. "They like to play and that's what you need." Davis scored 11 points in the first quarter and, while limited to just seven points over the next two periods, bounced back with several clutch baskets in the final 12 minutes.
"His mojo and bravado at the end of the game is what we need," Casey said. "He got us over the hump."
With Minnesota holding an 84-82 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining, Troy Hudson missed a jumper, but the ultra-athletic Davis came flying in for a follow shot.
On the ensuing possession, Davis blocked David Wesley's drive, then made a pair of free throws less than a minute later for an 88-84 advantage.
"It's a great start, everything I anticipated," Garnett said. "He was Ricky Davis tonight. He played great D. You know you're getting a high-energy player."
Davis finished 10-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the foul line, adding six rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes.
"Ricky's not new to the league," Garnett said. "I've seen him play. He's seen me play. We lose a lot of games being robotic. We haven't had any practice time. But it's basketball at the end of the day. It's beautiful."
Rookie Rashad McCants also gave Minnesota a lift with a season-high 18 points, including 16 in the second quarter.
"I'm seeing growth," Casey said of the 2005 first-round pick. "He's making a case for himself."
The Rockets, who had won three of their last four games, did have several chances to tie it late. But Tracy McGrady missed a potential game-tying jumper with 16 seconds left and, after Garnett split a pair of free throws, Wesley misfired on a wide-open 3-pointer.
McGrady scored 19 points but made just 6-of-19 shots. He admitted to being bothered by the mask he wore to protect his nose after catching an elbow from Charlotte's Jake Voskuhl on Wednesday.
"It was a little uncomfortable," McGrady said. "Every time I was running up and down the court, sweat is pouring and it got kind of hot in there, so I just couldn't take it anymore and took it off."
Stromile Swift added 19 points and Wesley 18 for Houston, which shot just 40 percent (33-of-82) and sank just 18-of-27 free throws.
"I just tried to come out and bring some energy," said Swift, who started in place of the flu-ridden Juwan Howard. "You fight so hard to get back in the game and then down the stretch you lose it."
Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy, whose team allowed 31 points in the fourth quarter, was extremely frustrated with the defensive performance.
"Our defense was bad, our defensive rebounding was awful," he said. "Our post defense was disgraceful in the first half."