KG Leads Wolves to Surprise Victory Over Fakers


KG's Rookie Season

It didn't take Kevin Garnett long to get special attention at center court after a Timberwolves game at Target Center.Not only was he interviewed Tuesday night at midcourt after being named the player of the game in his first NBA regular-season home game, his mother, Shirley Irby, surprised him by running onto the floor to give him a hug.

Garnett did not know his mother had flown in from their hometown of Mauldin, S.C., for the Wolves' 93-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. ``I've had this ritual of not speaking to him before a game since he was in junior high school,'' Irby said. ``I surprised him again.'' Garnett might have surprised the Lakers. The 19-year-old rookie had eight points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Three of the rebounds came in the crucial third quarter, when the Wolves turned the game around.

Garnett was on the floor with Rider at the end, but it was in the third quarter when he made things happen. Garnett had three rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot in a crucial stretch that saw the Wolves erase a 62-55 deficit. The kid was playing so well that veteran forward Sam Mitchell told Blair to leave Garnett in the game when Blair wanted to send Mitchell in to replace him for the tense finish.

``I can feel that the fans and my teammates want me to do well,'' said Garnett, the Wolves' first-round draft pick this year. ``I've always been taught to stress teamwork first. The NBA is another level, but it's still basketball, and the same things apply.'' A big roar for Garnett came early in the second quarter. The Woofies were down seven, when the lean, 6-foot-11 wunderkind Garnett made a three-pointer and then a lay-up. On the next play, L.A.'s Vlade Divac spun inside and sent a floater toward the basket. Garnett soared and spanked the ball viciously to the floor. The strike-breaking officials called it goaltending, but this did not deter the fans from letting out a 20-second standing ovation for the kid.

Lakers' guard Nick Van Exel missed a last-second shot that would have sent the Wolves (1-2) to their third in a row. Instead, they were celebrating a much-improved bench and the impressive performance of Garnett, who was among the reserve group of Porter, Rooks, Isaiah Rider and Marques Bragg that put a spark into the Wolves.

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