C's Steal Win from Minnesota


C's Steal Win from Minnesota

With former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett lying on the ground with the ball, he saved the game for his Celtics against his old team.

The sluggish-looking Celtics beat the struggling Wolves - who have six former Celtics - 87-86, during an emotional game before a sellout crowd at TD Banknorth Garden last night.

The Celtics are an NBA-best 34-7, while the Wolves dropped to an NBA-worst 7-35. Boston is also 7-1 in games after losses.

Garnett scored 10 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but also briefly left the game with an abdominal strain.

Considering the trade pipeline between the Celtics and Wolves, Boston's Paul Pierce said before the game that he expected his ex-teammates to be pumped for this one. Even so, Pierce said he wouldn't give in to all the hype because the Celtics are playing for "something bigger."

"Over the last four or five years this has been one of the most-heated games and playoff-type games because we have been trading partners with the Minnesota Timberwolves," Pierce said. "To me, I look at it as another game, no different than the Toronto Raptors, no different than the New Jersey Nets."

Ryan Gomes, a native of Waterbury, Conn., said he bought a whopping 70 tickets before the season for this game for family and friends. When asked if he gave up a game's pay to purchase the tickets, Gomes said he told those who received them: "I can't tell you where you're sitting. They might be a little high, but you're in the building."

Al Jefferson and Gomes got rousing ovations when they were introduced as part of the Timberwolves' starting lineup. As for Sebastian Telfair, who had problems on and off the court in Boston, he received a mixture of cheers and boos, and was booed the first time he dribbled the ball.

Jefferson beat his chest with 7:19 remaining in the first quarter when he gave the Wolves a 13-10 lead, giving him 8 quick points. But with the Celtics up, 21-20, with 3:10 left in the quarter, Jefferson went to the bench with two fouls and was replaced by ex-Boston College star Craig Smith. With 2.6 seconds left in the first, the fans cheered when Gerald Green checked in for Minnesota.

The Wolves finished the first quarter with a 30-29 lead after shooting 63.2 percent (12 of 19). The Celtics shot 50 percent.

Antoine Walker nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 35 with 8:40 remaining in the second quarter. Green winked at the Celtics' bench after hitting a jumper to give the Wolves a 39-35 lead. The Celtics finished the half with an 8-0 run, the final 6 scored by Kendrick Perkins, for a 50-47 lead.

The Celtics scored 30 points in the paint in the first half. Perkins had 14 points through two quarters and Garnett 10.

With the Celtics up, 55-51, with 9:37 left in the third quarter, Garnett and Jefferson began trash-talking while Perkins was shooting free throws. Both were hit with technicals.

The Wolves took a 66-62 lead with 2:34 remaining in the third on a Corey Brewer jumper. Brewer also nailed a 17-foot fadeaway with 2.6 seconds left in the quarter to give Minnesota a 68-67 lead.

Two Telfair free throws gave Minnesota a 75-69 lead with 8:01 remaining. With 6:19 left and the Wolves ahead, 75-69, the Celtics called time out after Garnett went to the bench in pain. Team doctor Brian McKeon checked on him. Shortly after, Garnett went to the locker room.

A Telfair jumper gave the Wolves an 82-76 lead with 4:33 remaining. A 3-point play by Tony Allen trimmed Boston's deficit to 82-79. With 2:19 left and Minnesota up, 84-81, Garnett returned to the bench during a timeout.

Telfair's baseline running lay-in gave the Wolves an 86-81 lead with 2:01 left. Garnett returned to the game with 1:51 remaining. Two Pierce free throws trimmed Boston's deficit to 86-83 with 1:51 left.

After a rebound by Garnett, Pierce traveled with 59.3 seconds left. The Celtics, however, got the ball back on another Garnett rebound. Pierce's putback with 23.2 seconds left sliced Boston's deficit to 86-85.

With Brewer trying to call a timeout while taking the ball out on the sideline, Minnesota was hit with a surprising five-second violation. The Celtics followed with a 20-second timeout. After a missed lay-in by Ray Allen, Perkins's tip-in with 16.6 seconds left gave Boston back the lead, 87-86.

With veteran Marko Jaric taking the ball out, the Wolves were nearly called for another five-second violation before he called a 20-second timeout. With the clock winding down, Garnett stole the ball from Telfair near midcourt and fell to the floor with the ball in his hands. A jubilant Garnett bounced around the floor, proudly displaying the "Celtics" on his jersey.

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