Wolves Top Celtics in Szczerbiak’s Return
Minnesota 110, Boston 85
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 30 (Ticker) -- A great day had a bad ending for Wally Szczerbiak.
After witnessing the birth of his daughter and receiving a standing ovation from the fans at the Target Center, Szczerbiak scored 22 points as the Boston Celtics suffered a 110-85 beating at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
When Szczerbiak and his wife scheduled a birth by Cesarean section for Monday, they did not know he would no longer be playing for Minnesota. However, the schedule had the Celtics visiting the Timberwolves, which made things a bit easier logistically but tougher emotionally.
"It was a real emotional game," Szczerbiak said. "I got fouled and went over to Trenton (Hassell) and Marko (Jaric) to get some dap and then realized, 'Whoa, they don't play for my team.' I've been real out of it for a couple of days. I need to take some time to regroup, and I think the whole team needs that."
Starting for the second straight game, Szczerbiak received a rousing ovation from the 17,003 in attendance. He also got a pregame hug from Timberwolves superstar Kevin Garnett, with whom he did not always have a great relationship.
"(The ovation) felt great. It really did," Szczerbiak said. "I've just had a great time here. Seven years is a long time to to be in one place and play in front of the fans. I've worked my butt off and made some great relationships and I'll never forget those relationships."
Szczerbiak, who missed his first two shots and was called for traveling on his third touch, made 6-of-15 shots and 9-of-9 free throws. He outplayed Davis, who had nine points, five assists and five rebounds. However, the others acquired by Minnesota did plenty of damage.
Guard Marcus Banks had 20 points and six assists, Mark Blount added 16 and 10 rebounds and Justin Reed scored nine points. All three players came off the bench to spark a big second quarter.
"Basically that's our old team out there, and we wanted to beat them really bad," Banks said. "The last time we played was out in Boston and these guys (Celtics) beat us (Wolves). I think it was by two or three or something like that, and we didn't want that to happen here."
"It did seem different, especially playing against your old team and a different crowd," Davis said. "(Energy) was the key to the trade. Just be more athletic and more competitive."
The Wolves began the second quarter with a 15-3 run that was capped by three straight hoops by Blount for a 45-31 lead.
The Celtics closed to 49-40 before Banks drilled a 3-pointer to trigger a 12-2 surge that ended the first half. During the run, Banks had a three-point play and Reed sank four free throws for a 61-42 advantage at intermission - Minnesota's best opening half of the season.
"The other guys on the (Wolves) just fed off their energy. We just didn't come with it," Boston forward Paul Pierce said. "When you get traded, you want to prove that you shouldn't have been traded, but it's the nature of the business. Stuff like that happens. They came out, and Marcus Banks has a career game.
Boston was within 14 points before Minnesota ended the third period with a 9-0 spurt that featured a dunk by Davis and five points from Banks. The Wolves led by at least 20 points thereafter and by as many as 32.
Garnett scored 15 points and Trenton Hassell and Eddie Griffin added 12 apiece for Minnesota, which shot a blistering 57 percent (41-of-72). It had lost four of its last five games.
"I don't like (the trade). I love it," Garnett said. "The fact that we all played with energy, and we haven't even had a real practice. This is my first time stepping on the floor with Marcus. We have a lot of potential, and it's up to not only the coaching staff but ourselves developing that potential. We have a real special thing here, and now it's about developing it and making sure that it stays together and gels."
Pierce scored 21 points but made just 7-of-23 shots for Boston (18-27), which has lost four of six.
The Celtics also acquired center Michael Olowokandi and forward-center Dwayne Jones in the trade. Olowokandi scored two points in three minutes and Jones did not play.
"My teammates came to me and apologized because they knew I wanted this win, but that's OK," Szczerbiak said. "It was not of them to think about me and do that. It's strange (seeing his name on the back of a Celtics jersey and) wearing (No.) 55, but you forget about all of that when you're on the floor. You just play basketball."