Garnett Tossed; Wolves Rally to Beat Grizzlies
Minnesota 105, Memphis 99
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 26 (Ticker) -- After Kevin Garnett tossed the ball into the stands, Ricky Davis made sure the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't throw away a win.
Davis scored 14 of his season-high 35 points in a closing surge and the Timberwolves overcame the ejection of their superstar for a 105-99 victory over the streaky Memphis Grizzlies.
"When Kevin went out, the team pulled together," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "Our young guys did well. It was almost like the youngsters wanting to do well for their big brother."
However, Minnesota (24-31) still is four games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It has not missed the postseason in consecutive years since the arrival in 1995 of Garnett, a former NBA MVP who has been mentioned in trade rumors all season.
Garnett opened the second half with two straight hoops, giving Minnesota a 62-54 lead. But with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter, the nine-time All-Star was whistled for his fourth foul.
Knowing that meant a prolonged seat on the bench, Garnett flipped the ball toward the seats along the baseline, hitting a middle-aged man in the face. Garnett received a technical foul and an automatic ejection, only the fourth of his 10 year career, for throwing an object into the stands.
"You don't want something like that to happen in sports," Casey said. "But nobody feels worse than Kevin."
Before leaving, Garnett went over and apologized to the fan. Later in the period, the fan was taken from the Target Center on a stretcher - which appeared to be a bit much - and was booed by the crowd.
"By no means did I mean to hit any fans," Garnett said. "I didn't even look where I tossed it. The ejection surprised me. I felt bad because I think the the team needs me."
Other than apologizing again, Wolves team officials declined to comment regarding the incident, citing a desire to protect the privacy of the individual involved.
Garnett exited with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Minnesota holding a 64-61 lead. Led by Davis, the Wolves never trailed without their leader.
"They did a good job of using it (Garnett's ejection) as motivation to play harder," Memphis forward Shane Battier said. "And we let up a bit. We didn't do a good job of taking advantage of their best player being out."
A 9-0 run to close the third quarter answered a tying 8-0 spurt by Memphis and gave Minnesota the lead for good at 81-72. The Grizzlies closed to 83-82 before McCants made a 3-pointer and layup around a jumper by Bobby Jackson, rebuilding the lead to 88-84 with 5:49 to go.
"Rashad did a very good job for us, running the break, shooting the three, spotting up," Casey said. "I've said this for a couple weeks - he's really improving."
Davis made two free throws to extend the advantage to 92-86 with 4:52 left, then added an acrobatic layup and a three-point play for a 98-88 bulge with 2:36 to play. He sank 7-of-10 free throws in the final 97 seconds to seal the win.
Acquired in January from Boston, Davis made 9-of-21 shots and 15-of-20 free throws as he eclipsed his previous season high of 33 done three times, including once with Minnesota. His 35 points was also a season best for Minnesota, eclipsing Wally Szczerbiak's 34 points against the Lakers on 12/2/05.
"Ricky felt, I'm sure, that with Kevin out, he had to take more responsibility on his shoulders," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said. "We didn't guard him; we just fouled him. We put him on the line 20 times. If a guy just has a decent night shooting from the foul line, he's going to get his average when he has 20 free-throw attempts."
Davis did not talk with reporters after the game.
Mark Blount scored 12 points for the Wolves, who are just 5-10 since the trade.
Pau Gasol scored 23 points and Chucky Atkins added 22 for the Grizzlies (30-26), who have lost three in a row. That skid comes after a four-game winning streak which followed a five-game slide.
"I was very disappointed with our defense overall," Fratello said. "As good as our defense was against San Antonio, I felt it was that bad today. That's not to take anything away from them. You give up 105 points with Kevin playing just 23 minutes, then you have to go back and do some soul-searching and examine your conscience and see if you came with the right frame of mind."