Wolves rout KG, Nets at Target Center

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 23, 2013 - 1:08 AM

The home team proved to be healthier, younger and more athletic than the injury-depleted Nets.

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If this indeed was Kevin Garnett’s last game at Target Center, what memory should be taken away?

Perhaps the impromptu standing ovation the announced 15,551 fans gave the 37-year-old in the first quarter of Friday’s game after a montage of his spectacular time with the Timberwolves was played on the scoreboard, after which Garnett rose, waved and tapped his chest.

Or this: Early in the third quarter of a game already gone sideways for the beat-up Brooklyn Nets, when Garnett more than tapped Kevin Love’s chest with his forearm, drawing a flagrant foul and a technical and igniting a Wolves run that sealed this one-sided 111-81 victory?

Garnett had never lost to his former team since leaving Minnesota. He was 7-0 while with Boston, with whom he won a title. He was 4-0 at Target Center. Two seasons ago Garnett came to town with the Celtics, outplayed Love, then did a little crowing on the way out of town.

Times change.

This time Garnett is on a Brooklyn team missing three starters and a top reserve to injury. This time the Wolves (8-6) were the younger, healthier and more athletic team. And it was Love who, after scoring 17 points with 16 rebounds, was talking about what it felt like to win, breaking a two-game losing streak.

“I joked with [Kevin Martin] tonight that I’m glad I didn’t have to guard him in his prime,” Love said of Garnett, who had eight points and eight rebounds. “Cause he was something else. He’s a Hall of Fame player. He’s the Big Ticket.’’

But Garnett was big-time frustrated after this one, the Nets’ most one-sided loss this season and the Wolves’ biggest victory. Brooklyn (3-9), without Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry, lost for the fourth consecutive game.

“I think we’re getting beat up in all types of ways that you can get beat up,” Garnett said.

So maybe he tried to push back. The Wolves led by 14 after a quarter, by 20 at the half. They still led by 16 with 9:28 left in the third when it happened. Garnett had been guarding Love hard all night. The Nets’ plan was to not let Love get the ball, which is why Nikola Pekovic (15 points), Martin (17) and Corey Brewer (15) got so many opportunities.

In the post, Garnett was guarding Love, who tried to swat away Garnett’s hands. Ultimately, Garnett threw a forearm at Love. Martin hit the technical free throw. Love hit his two free throws.

On the ensuing possession, Ricky Rubio found Brewer in the corner for a three. That six-point possession kick-started a 16-0 run that put the Wolves up 32.

End of game.

“Two guys battling, fighting, frustration,” Garnett said. “Whatever you want to call it. He goes hard. I go hard. I’m over it. End of that.”

Said Love: “That’s kind of vintage KG, trying to get himself going, get himself into the right mindframe. I just didn’t really care.’’

Still, it was a much different scene than it was back in late March 2012, after Garnett had played so well. “He still had it pretty good then,” Love said. “He still had good players around him. I’m not saying he doesn’t have it any more. But he just had so much energy, still, then. And was playing heavy minutes.’’

The Wolves hit 11 three-pointers, had six blocks and 10 steals, and a season-high 17 offensive rebounds. They dominated in just about every way possible.

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  • Wolves Kevin Love and Nets Kevin Garnett fought for position under the basket during the first half at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Friday, November 22, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • The Wolves’ Kevin Martin split Brooklyn defenders Tor nike Shengelia and Mason Plumlee.

  • The Nets’ Kevin Garnett, acknowledging the crowd, had his first loss to his former team.

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