Kevin Garnett’s second game back at Target Center wasn’t exactly the picture perfect scene that was a few nights ago.
In front of a raucous sellout crowd, Garnett’s night was cut short when referee Bennett Salvatore handed out a questionable technical foul in the 101-97 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at Target Center.
Garnett fouled Jeff Green on a fastbreak and spiked the ball in frustration. That was enough for Salvatore much to the chagrin of a packed Target Center crowd.
Postgame Interview: Flip Saunders
“He bounced the ball because he was frustrated with himself that he fouled,” Flip Saunders said. “In no way was it a resentment toward the call. … He wasn’t disagreeing with the call, so when it was it was said that it was an automatic technical foul, it’s not.”
Nonetheless the sequence ended Garnett’s night prematurely and the Wolves had to readjust as the game wore on. Garnett received a huge standing ovation from the crowd as he made his way to the locker room and finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 15 minutes in the matchup.
“It was tough losing him,” Ricky Rubio said. “It’s just part of the game sometimes and we knew we had to play with whoever was left on the court.”
Though it looked grim after Garnett’s ejection, Minnesota was actually in prime position to tie the game and send it into overtime in the waning seconds.
Postgame Interview: Ricky Rubio
Martin had a wide-open look from the left corner and watched as that potential game-tying shot clang off the rim to solidify the loss.
“These guys played hard,” Saunders said. “They played with a lot of spirit. We had a great crowd and we had a great look at the end to send it into overtime. So I can’t fault our guys.”
Martin, who was ice cold from the floor for most of the matchup, nailed three clutch three-pointers in the final frame, including a cold-blooded shot from the left side that tied the game at 97-97 with 43.6 second left.
Mike Conley, however, was even more clutch for the Grizzlies down the stretch. He drilled the go-ahead shot from long range and also knocked down a pair of free throws late in the contest. Mark Gasol added 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting from the floor as the Minnesota had no response for him on the low block. Jeff Green chipped in with 13 points to make up for a less-than-impressive night from Zach Randolph.
“That’s a good team,” Saunders said. “I believe that team will go to the NBA finals. … They’ve got it inside and outside, Conley is one of the most underrated players in the league, and they’re going to be tough to beat in a seven-game series. We played them three times this season and we had three great games. I can’t fault our guys.”
Postgame Interview: Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins paced the Wolves with a team-high 25 points in the loss. He was active on both ends of the floor and powered home a few thunderous dunks on the night. Garry Neal provided a nice spark of the bench as he added 16 points to help keep the team in it.
Minnesota forced 24 turnovers — a number Rubio said was a product of communication on the floor.
Wiggins said while this type of loss is tough to stomach, games like this also prove that the team is headed in the right direction.
“We knew we were better than we started,” Wiggins said, “It’s starting to show now that we have all of our guys back.”
LEADER OF THE PACK
Andrew Wiggins came to play Saturday night against the Grizzlies. In a game that was hyped as Game 2 of Kevin Garnett’s return, Wiggins continued to prove that he’s the future of the franchise. He finished with 25 points and shot 10-for-22 from the floor. Wiggins also played a game-high 42 minutes in the contest.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
-- While he certainly isn’t a 19-year-old anymore, Kevin Garnett showed he can still contribute at a high level against the Grizzlies. Garnett stuffed the stat sheet finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 15 minutes. His night was cut short after Bennett Salvatore hit him with a questionable technical foul after halftime.
-- Minnesota opened the game on fire and shot 57.9 percent in the first quarter. That allowed it to build a 24-18 lead early on as Memphis couldn’t keep up on either end of the floor.
-- It was clear the Grizzlies were fresh off a back-to-back with their effort early in the game. They had 8 turnovers in the first quarter and the Wolves scored 12 points off those mishaps.
-- Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih provided Memphis a nice spark off the bench. That pairing was a collective plus-18 before halftime and helped their team get right back into the game.
-- Garry Neal proved his worth as a valuable sparkplug of the throughout the game. Neal finished with 16 points and shot 4-for-7 from the floor.
It won’t get any easier for Minnesota. It will take Sunday off before a tough matchup against the Los Angles Clippers on Monday. Blake Griffin won’t play in the game as he continues to recover for an elbow injury.