The Timberwolves started the 2001-02 season with a 30-10 record, finishing with a franchise record-tying 50 wins, and advanced to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. As the fifth seed in the Western Conference, the Wolves fell to fourth-seed Dallas in three games in the first round.
The Wolves opened up the year winning their first six games, going 9-4 in the month of November for the most successful November in franchise history. The team added three newcomers — six-year veteran Gary Trent and rookies Loren Woods and Maurice Evans — and welcomed back former Wolf Joe Smith. Highlighting the first month of play was a 53-point triumph over Chicago, the largest victory in club history.
Kevin Garnett made his fifth career All-Star appearance in 2001-02.
Noren Trotman, NBAE/Getty Images
Minnesota began the month of January with eight straight wins, extending their winning streak to nine in a row — the second-longest winning streak in club history. With Brandon back from knee surgery, the Wolves and a record-breaking Target Center crowd (20,320) welcomed in Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards. Jordan’s return didn’t phase Minnesota, who rode its 65 percent shooting in the third quarter all the way to a win, 105-101.
For the 2002 All-Star Game, the Wolves sent two players: Kevin Garnett (for the fifth time) and Wally Szczerbiak (for the first time). Garnett scored 14 point and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes, while Szczerbiak added 10 points and three assists in 12 minutes to lead the Western Conference to a 135-120 victory.
On Feb. 13, the Wolves placed Terrell Brandon on the Injured List. He had surgery the following week to repair a cartilage fracture on the surface of his left femur and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.
A win at Dallas was highlighted by Chauncey Billups' career-high 36 points, 24 of which came in the third quarter, breaking the franchise record for most points in a quarter held by James Robinson. On the day of the trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Dean Garrett and a 2007 second-round pick to Golden State in exchange for Marc Jackson.
February was marked with an end to a streak. During the Feb. 4 game in San Antonio, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were ejected, ending Garnett’s streak of double-figure scoring at 338 games, the eight-longest in NBA history. But Garnett was named Western Conference Player of the Month for February, the second such award of his career, by averaging 22.1 ppg, 11.9 rpg, and 5.0 apg as the Wolves went 8-4.
In his third season, Wally Szczerbiak followed his 2001 Rookie Game MVP award with his first career trip to the NBA All-Star Game.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
April saw the Wolves finish the month at 5-4 and the season at 50-32. During a West Coast road trip, Minnesota posted a loss to the Lakers, 96-83. The Wolves shot a mere 33.3 percent on the night, a season-low for shooting. With a regular season finale against Denver, Minnesota marked win number 50, tying the franchise record for wins.
Entering the 2002 playoffs as the fifth seed, the Wolves drew fourth seed Dallas in the first round. Despite its best effort, Minnesota was swept by Dallas, 3-0. The early exit marked the sixth year in a row the Wolves did not advance past the first round.
Following the season, Kevin Garnett earned second-team All-NBA honors, first-team All-Defensive acclaim and All-Interview Team honors. In addition to his Player of the Month award in February, he was named Western Conference Player of the Week twice during the season, bringing his career total to seven.