Kevin Garnett spoke at shootaround in Denver this morning, this first public comments since his longtime coach and friend Flip Saunders died on Sunday.

He said he'd only answer "basketball questions," but talked some about the week that has been.

I asked him how much responsibility he feels as the team's veteran leader to hold his team together in a week like this.

"We are all carrying each other and holding each other up throughout the week," he said. "Tough week for all of us, but we're managing."

He talked about going back to work and playing the regular season's first games here in a week filled with such sorrow.

"It's good. It's a good outlet, especially when you're going through things. It's good to have an outlet, something that can take your mind off reality for a little bit. It's good."

Garnett gestured toward the heavens at the end of Wednesday's season opener at Los Angeles, a game the Wolves held on to win 112-111 when the Lakers' short, last-second shot missed.

"It's just a good team win for us," Garnett said. "We're trying to build something here. Opening night is probably one of the most important games of the year. It was good to get the first one. Hopefully the momentum carries us to get a couple more."

New Nuggets coach Mike Malone spoke emotionally this morning about the time he spent with Saunders last season. Malone had just been fired by Sacramento and Saunders called, inviting a career coach to come on the road with his Wolves team for a couple West Coast trip.

"It meant the world," he said. "The thing I tell people that really makes it that much more more special is, Flip and I had no prior relationship. It wasn't like we went back years. We knew each other, we said "hi," but it was a cordial relationship. Two weeks after I get fired, Flip Saunders is extending an invitation to me to spend time with him and his staff. That doesn't happen very often.

"Two weeks later, no one is calling you. But Flip called. That's why it made it tough when he passed. I didn't know him long, but in the short time I got know to him, we got to be very close. Big loss for the entire NBA and coaching community, for the Wolves and for me personally."

The Nuggets play at Oklahoma City Sunday after tonight's game against the Wolves. Malone said he and Nuggets GM Tim Connelly -- Saunders' former colleague and longtime friend -- will attend a private service tomorrow in the Twin Cities on his way to Oklahoma.

They're expected to be among a notable contingent of the NBA family who'll attend. Longtime friend Doc Rivers, the LA Clippers coach, and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle also are expected to attend.

"It's just the right thing to do," Malone said.

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Many will pay their respects Saturday to Saunders