Motivated Garnett isn't slowing down

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2012 - 6:17 AM

The former Wolves star, back here tonight with the Celtics, says competing against younger stars fires him up.

Even though Kevin Love is breaking several of Kevin Garnett's Timberwolves records, team owner Glen Taylor believes Love still has a ways to go to top what Garnett did here over 12 seasons.

Taylor complimented Garnett, even though the Celtics star recently was quoted as saying that he loves Minnesota's fans but doesn't have anything good to say about Taylor or the Wolves franchise.

So it will be interesting when the Celtics and Wolves get on the Target Center floor Friday night, in what will be a great show.

This is Garnett's first game in Minneapolis since last March, when he scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in an 85-82 Celtics victory.

On Wednesday night in Boston, Garnett faced off against the Utah Jazz and forward Al Jefferson -- who was the main trade component when the Wolves sent Garnett to the Celtics in 2007 -- and the two players were chippy for the bulk of the game.

After the Celtics beat the Jazz 94-82, Garnett -- who scored 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting and had 10 rebounds -- talked about his motivation this season, his 17th in the league.

"I hear y'all calling me old," he told reporters. "I hear y'all calling me older, weathered. It don't really take much to motivate me. I'm older in basketball years, but in life I'm 30-something."

Garnett, 35, said he's been more critical of himself this year.

"I've been giving myself a true analysis in the mirror, looking at myself, telling myself what I can do better. And I've been going toward that," he said.

Garnett added that playing against a younger generation of forwards gives him extra incentive to perform -- as he will against the younger Love on Friday night.

"It puts a spark under me and I like that -- playing against younger talent that is supposed to be prolific and supposed to be above average."

Rest assured Mr. Garnett will be at his best.

But while Jefferson and Garnett continue to play at a high level, the numbers show that Love was the player to build around.

Since Garnett was traded in 2007, he has averaged 15.9 points and 8.4 rebounds in five seasons with the Celtics. Since Jefferson was traded in 2010, he has averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds in two seasons with the Jazz. But since Love became the primary power forward for the Wolves two years ago, he has averaged 22.7 points and 14.7 rebounds per game, numbers rivaled by only Dwight Howard, who has averaged 21.9 points and 14.3 rebounds for the Magic the past two years.

Love is also outpacing Garnett's early-career averages. In Garnett's first four years, from the age of 19 to 23, he averaged 16.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Love, who will remain 23 throughout this season, has played three full seasons and is in his fourth and has averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 12.1 rebounds.

I also think Garnett had much better players around him during his early career, nothing like when Love had to suffer through an awful stretch of basketball when the Wolves posted back-to-back records of 15-67 in 2009-10 and 17-65 last season.

I wonder how well Garnett would have done -- the Wolves won 40 games and made the playoffs in his second year in Minnesota -- if he'd played on a squad that won only 32 games in two years.

Hutchinson on 'bounties'

In light of the ongoing news story regarding the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" system, former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson -- who played in the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the Saints -- was asked what he thought of the penalties the league dealt out to the Saints.

"It's something that doesn't have any place in the game and I think the judgment that the league has dealt out thus far is probably appropriate for what was happening," Hutchinson said. "If there was anything going on, maybe something like this was a little bit of a wake-up call to kind of end it."

But Hutchinson didn't perceive the Saints as trying to hurt people on purpose for money in that title game.

"There were probably a couple of late hits that should have been called and a few more than normal, but again, I don't think anybody thought it was because there was a bounty," he said.

Jottings

• The Gophers athletic department already has applied to the NCAA to get a waiver for Trevor Mbakwe so his scholarship won't count against the team next year, because they currently don't have a scholarship available for the 6-8 forward if he decides to return for his sixth year of college basketball.

• Jay Pivec, basketball coach at Dakota County Technical College, has been asked to speak at the Final Four in New Orleans this week at the National Association of Basketball Coaches annual convention.

• Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway continues to contribute to charities in a big way. The latest move was made Thursday when he launched "Chad's Locker" at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. The locker will contain iPads, computers, DVD players and other electronic games to help brighten the lives of ill children and their families during their stay at the hospital.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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