2006-07: Garnett: The Final Season

For more than a decade, Kevin Garnett had been the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves. From the young high schooler hopping around in the old powder blue uniforms to the dominating All Star and MVP who led the team to the Western Conference Finals, Garnett embodied everything the Timberwolves were about.

After a tumultuous season that saw the Timberwolves trade the last remaining pieces of that 2004 Western Conference Finals team, Minnesota was clearly beginning to rebuild entering the 2006-07 season. But the team still tried to provide Garnett all the help he would need to return to the Playoffs since the 2004 season.

The Wolves started the season on Draft night, acquiring promising young combo guard Randy Foye from Villanova in a draft night deal. Foye was a scorer who could also play some point guard, much like Sam Cassel was when he helped the Wolves deep into the playoffs. Minnesota also drafted Craig Smith, a tough and rugged inside presence who could provide the team with some energy off the bench.

With Mike James back on board, the Wolves fielded a potent scoring lineup with Garnett and Mark Blount down low and Mike James, Ricky Davis and Trenton Hassell along the wing. The team brought the rookies Foye and Smith off the bench along with veteran point guard Marko Jaric, second-year guard Rashad McCants and center Mark Madsen.

Minnesota got off to a fair start, finishing the month of November at 6-8. Craig Smith had a fabulous start to his season. He scored 20 points in 16 minutes in the second game of the season against Denver at the Pepsi Center. He became the first player to score more than 20 points in less than 20 minutes since Chauncey Billups accomplished that feat in 2001. Smith completed his rookie year averaging 7.4 points per game and shooting 53.1 percent in 18.7 minutes per game.

Garnett did not let the rookie be the only one to score accolades early in the season. The "Big Ticket" scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds at Sacramento three days later for his 37th consecutive point/rebound double-double. The streak ended the next day against Lakers, but it was the longest such streak since Moses Malone had 44 consecutive point/rebound double-doubles 23 years before.

Garnett continued to cement his place in NBA history in December. He scored his 18,000th career point against the 76ers on December 3, leading the Timberwolves to a 95-84 win. Garnett also made his 1,500th career block in a 101-82 home victory over Seattle. It was also a month for the Wolves' newest member. Randy Foye was named the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for December. Foye ended his rookie season averaging 10.1 points per game, 2.8 assists per game and 2.7 rebounds per game.

But even as team members gained individual accolades, the team continued to tread water. Minnesota finished the month at 7-7 and stood at 13-15 entering the new year.

The new year did not bring the Timberwolves much luck. They again finished the month not far from .500, going 9-8, and in a difficult Western Conference were falling farther and farther behind. Minnesota made a change, firing head coach Dwane Casey on January 23 while the team was in the midst of a six-game losing streak on a Western road trip. The team promoted Randy Wittman to head coach.

The Wolves kept plugging away throughout the season though. Garnett and the team broke several records in the month. On January 7, the day Garnett was named Western Conference Player of the Week, Garnett broke his own franchise record of consecutive double-figure scoring games. His 26 points marked the 339th consecutive time he had scored 10 points or more, the eighth longest streak in NBA history. That 103-99 win against Houston also marked the third straight overtime game Minnesota played, tying an NBA record. Better yet, the Wolves won all three of those games. Overall, the Wolves played six overtime games in January, setting an NBA record for most overtime games in a calendar month.

Ricky Davis also set a historic mark, scoring 30 of his 32 points in the second half in a game against the Jazz on January 22. The 30 points tied a franchise record shared by Tony Campbell and Chauncey Billups. The following night, Garnett dished out his 4,000th assists of his career.

With a new coach, Minnesota hoped to right the ship and make a push for the playoffs in February. The team struggled throughout the month, going 4-8 and falling further behind in the West. Randy Foye and Kevin Garnett represented the Wolves at the All Star Weekend in Las Vegas. Foye scored 14 points and seven assists in the Rookie Challenge and Garnett scored seven points, six rebounds and four assists in 10th straight All-Star appearance and eighth career start.

Throughout March, Minnesota continued its odd overtime record. Ricky Davis played 55:50 in a double overtime win over the Lakers, the second most in team history. On April 1, the Wolves set a franchise record with their 10th overtime game of the season, a 105-104 win against the Magic in Orlando. Minnesota went 6-4 in the 10 overtime contests.

Even as the team struggled in the standings, Garnett continued to set marks for future Wolves to strive for. He recorded his 30th career 20-point and 20-rebound game against the Heat on March 30. He scored his 19,000th career point in New York on April 6. Garnett continued to fight for his team with everything he had, even as the team struggled. Minnesota finished March 4-11, ending almost any chance of catching up to the Western Conference playoff contenders.

After going 2-8 in April, the Wolves finished 32-50 on the season.

Garnett had a fine season, leading the team with 22.4 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game. It earned him a spot on the All-NBA Third Team and the NBA All-Defensive Team. Ricky Davis averaged 17.0 points per game and led the team with 4.8 assists per game. Foye and Smith were rewarded for their strong rookie seasons with places on the NBA All-Rookie first and second teams.

NOVEMBER (6-8) Minnesota began its 18th campaign with a new point guard, Mike James, and two highly touted rookies in Randy Foye (selected out of Villanova) and Craig Smith (selected from Boston College). The Wolves picked up their seventh consecutive Opening Day win and 12th consecutive win in a Home Opener with a 92-83 triumph over Sacramento on Nov. 1. They followed the win up with a 112-109 victory at Denver on Nov. 3. The next three games of their West Coast road trip didn’t go as well. On Nov. 4, Minnesota dropped a close one in Portland, 86-88, before losing to Sacramento (81-93) and the L.A. Lakers (88-95) on Nov. 6 and 7, respectively. The Timberwolves returned home to split games against the Magic (Nov. 11) and Trailblazers (Nov. 14). The 98-109 loss to the Magic was the team’s fourth straight, but Ricky Davis led the way with 27 points in the 101-89 win against the Trailblazers. A road and home back-to-back set at Cleveland and New Orleans/Oklahoma City followed. The Cavs took the first game 76-92 and the Hornets followed it up with a 96-99 triumph despite Kevin Garnett’s 22-point and 17-rebound effort. A 107-89 home win against the Knicks on Nov.22 started a three-game winning streak that also included wins at New Orleans/Oklahoma City (86-79 - Nov. 24) and against the Clippers (104-96 - Nov. 25) that brought the team even at 6-6. However, November ended with road losses to Dallas, 87-93 (Nov. 27), and Houston, 75-82 (Nov. 28), to leave the Wolves at 6-8 for the opening month of the season.

DECEMBER (7-7, 13-15) December started out with a 92-106 loss at home to Denver before the Wolves would rattle off four consecutive victories. The wins were at Philadelphia (95-84), against Houston (90-84) and Utah (110-103) and at Chicago (91-81). Against Utah on Dec. 8, Kevin Garnett became the first Timberwolves player to notch 30 points that season  (31) and also snared 14 rebounds. Following the winning streak was a four-game losing streak at San Antonio (82-85) and Milwaukee (104-108), and against the L.A. Lakers (94-111) and Milwaukee (107-113) which left Minnesota with a 10-13 record. The team went 3-2 the rest of the month with wins at Indiana (78-71), and against Chicago (100-98) and Seattle (101-82). The losses came on the road at the hands of the Raptors (97-100) and the Nets (92-100). The Timberwolves finished the month at 7-7 and were 13-15 overall.

JANUARY (9-8, 22-23) Minnesota opened the New Year with plenty of fireworks as the team won its first four contests and seven of the first eight. On New Year’s Day the team was in Charlotte and produced a 102-96 victory behind Kevin Garnett’s 32 points and 14 rebounds. They followed it up with the first of three consecutive overtime wins at home against San Antonio (Jan. 3) as Mark Blount scored 28 points as the Spurs went down 103-101 in OT. Philly was next in line on Jan. 5 as Randy Foye handed out 10 assists in the 104-102 overtime win. The streak concluded with a 103-99 triumph against Houston on Jan. 7 with Garnett tallying 26 points and 13 rebounds. A fourth overtime game was narrowly missed when the Clippers ended the Wolves winning streak with a 92-91 win. Minnesota responded with three more wins in a row, at Memphis (116-110), against New Jersey (109-98) and at Detroit (94-90) in overtime. At the time the team was at 20-16. The Wolves then dropped their next six contests, starting with two at home to the Hawks (88-105) and the Pistons (98-104 in double overtime). From there it was a five game West Coast trip where the club would lose the next four at Phoenix (102-131), Utah (91-106), Portland (98-101 in overtime) and Seattle (100-102). On Jan. 23, between the games at Utah (Jan. 22) and Portland (Jan. 24), the Wolves relieved Dwane Casey of his head coaching responsibilities and promoted assistant coach Randy Wittman. Wittman picked up his first win as Minnesota’s head coach with a 101-87 score against the L.A. Clippers on Jan. 27. They followed that up with a 121-112 win on Jan. 29 against Phoenix. Kevin Garnett tallied a Wolves season-high 44 points in that contest. January was closed out with a narrow 98-100 defeat at the hands of the Sacarmento Kings. Minnesota finished the month with a 9-8 mark, which moved them just one game below .500. They also participated in six overtime contests, including one double overtime game, going 4-2 in the extra session games.

FEBRUARY (4-8, 26-31) The Wolves hit the road for the first three games of February and came up short in each of those contests. On Feb. 2, they faced off against the Hornets and lost 83-90 as the front end of a back-to-back that also included the Mavericks. The next night it was a one-point defeat at the hands of Dallas that spoiled a 25 point and 20 rebound effort from Kevin Garnett. The road trip concluded with a 77-105 loss against Houston. Minnesota was home for seven of the last nine February games starting with their 121-93 win on Feb. 7 against Golden State. Another overtime game, in Memphis on Feb. 9, was a tough loss (97-105). The Wolves stayed unbeaten at home in February with a 109-107 last-second win over Boston and a 99-94 win over Denver. They suffered a 100-112 loss in Washington following the All-Star break before returning to Minnesota for four home games to end February. They lost 95-100 to Charlotte and 104-116 to Phoenix before getting revenge on Washington with a 98-94 win. The last game of the month was also the lowest scoring output of the season for the Wolves as they lost 65-91 against Dallas. Overall, Minnesota was 26-31 after a 4-8 February.

MARCH (4-11, 30-42) Minnesota lost consecutive games at the start of March, against Utah (83-109) and at Boston in double overtime (117-124). Another double-overtime game resulted in a win against the Lakers on March 6 (117-107). In those games Ricky Davis had 35 and 33 points, respectively. The Wolves headed south for games against Miami (91-105) and Atlanta (93-99) but came up empty. They rebounded at home for an 86-81 win against the Pacers before a five-game road-trip took the squad West. They lost four of five on the road, but picked up a 95-89 win at Sacramento on March 21. Rookie Randy Foye tallied 24 points in the win. The club returned to Target Center for a buzzer-beating 94-93 win over the Trail Blazers on March 25, but suffered a 106-114 loss to Seattle a couple nights later. Another road game in a month dominated by games outside of the Twin Cities (nine, the most of any month in the 2006-07 season) found the Wolves in Utah where they fell 102-108. Minnesota returned home for the final game of March on the 30th, but fell to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat 77-92 to finish the month at 4-11 and 30-42 overall.

APRIL (2-8, 32-50) April had the Wolves scheduled for 10 games in 18 days, including six contests at Target Center. In familiar fashion, Minnesota went into overtime on April 1 against the Orlando Magic. Ricky Davis scored 36 in helping the Wolves to a 105-104 win. Kevin Garnett led the club with 14 rebounds and eight assists. The game was followed by an 88-101 loss to Cleveland on Apr.il 3. Randy Foye led the way with 19 points in the team’s second win of the month, a 99-94 game at New York on April 6. It was tougher from there as the team lost the next four at home against the Hornets (94-96), Raptors (100-111), Mavericks (88-105) and Spurs (91-110). The team went on the road to Golden State where Ricky Davis’ season-high 42 points weren’t enough against the Warriors who won 121-108. Next up was a visit to Denver where the Nuggets came out ahead 107-122. In that game the Wolves rookie duo of Randy Foye and Craig Smith each had nine rebounds to top the squad. The curtains fell on the 2006-07 campaign with Memphis making their first and only visit to Minnesota on April 18. Randy Foye had 26 points in a 94-116 loss that left the team 2-8 in the month of April. Overall, the Wolves were 32-50 and one game under .500 at home with a 20-21 mark.