Phoenix's 17-game winning streak slammed head-on into the Big Ticket, who found a zone in the fourth quarter and ended with 44 points.
After it was over, with the Target Center crowd dancing and screaming, Kevin Garnett ran over to Randy Wittman. The two have been together forever, but this was a new start for the Timberwolves' resident star and the recently installed head coach in his home debut.
So after the Wolves had done the seemingly impossible -- ending the 17-game winning streak of the Phoenix Suns on Monday night in a 121-112 thriller -- Garnett went up to Wittman, smacked him on the chest and yelled in his ear.
"It was heartfelt, letting him know we'll fight for him every night," Garnett said after scoring 44 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and taking the game by the throat in the fourth quarter.
"We won it more for him and these fans, probably, than we won it for ourselves."
But everybody gets a piece of this upset.
Garnett scored more than a point a minute. Ricky Davis ran himself ragged chasing Steve Nash. Mark Madsen hit all his three shots and played a big part in the Wolves' killer second-half zone.
And there's Wittman, who replaced Dwane Casey four games ago.
"We talked about not having to do anything different than in the last three games," he said. "The intensity, the desire, we laid it on the line. This is four games in a row these guys have done that. That's what I'm most proud of."
The Suns came to Target Center having won 33 of their previous 35, one of three teams in NBA history to go 33-2.
Their success lies in tempting opponents to run, then cutting their legs out. This time, though, the Wolves set the pace, at least in the second half.
And Garnett set the tempo. His 44 points -- 15 in the fourth quarter -- were the second-highest total of his career and tied for the second-highest total in franchise history.
The Wolves, with Nash resting on the bench, closed the third quarter with an 11-5 run to pull within a point. Nash returned with 8:36 left and the Suns up 101-100.
Let the battle begin: Nash missed and Davis scored on the break. Another Phoenix miss turned into Randy Foye's corner jumper. Madsen scored, but Nash hit a three, then fed Shawn Marion for another. Wolves 108-107, six minutes left.
Garnett then scored twice in a 6-0 run that forced a Phoenix timeout with 3:04 left. Out of the break, Garnett was back at it, scoring from 20 feet for a 116-107 lead at 2:29. He scored five more points down the stretch.
The Suns had all five starters in double figures, too, but they were 5-for-17 in the fourth quarter. For most of the final period Nash looked human, held to three points on 1-for-6 shooting.
"Every time we made a run they had an answer," said Phoenix guard Raja Bell. "You can climb as much as you want, but if the hill keeps getting higher and higher then you are never going to reach the top."
The Wolves? They're a long way from those heights, but maybe they took a step in that direction Monday.
"If we can't get momentum off of this, something's wrong," Madsen said.
So after it was over Garnett went to thank Wittman, who had spent years with the team as an assistant before taking over last week.
"I've been here the longest with Witt," Garnett said. "I just said, 'Great job tonight.' "
|Utah Valley U||64|
|(5) South Carolina||67|
|(14) NC State||79|
|(11) Penn State||82|
|(2) Notre Dame||83|
|(19) Michigan State||61|
|(13) North Carolina||73||FINAL|
|(15) Texas A&M||86|
|San Diego State||46||FINAL|
|San Jose St||80||FINAL|