"We've got no one to blame but ourselves," said Garnett, who
took just one question after the Wolves' 107-104 setback to the
Denver Nuggets on Friday night. "That's a tough thing to
Minnesota, which finished with the best record in the Western
Conference last season and eliminated Denver in a first-round
playoff series, fell 4½ games behind seventh-place Denver and 3½
behind eighth-place Memphis in the race for the final playoff spot
in the West.
"We've got to go 6-0 the rest of the way," Garnett said.
Garnett had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Wolves, who had
won seven of their previous eight games in a late-season dash for
the playoffs. But despite rallying from a 12-point second-half
deficit to tie the score twice in the fourth quarter, Minnesota
couldn't take the lead and Sam Cassell's potential game-tying
3-pointer missed with 2 seconds left.
"It could've gone both ways, and we made more plays down the
stretch," Miller said.
Kenyon Martin added 24 points for the Nuggets, who improved to
27-6 under George Karl and won for the 20th time in their last 22
games. Denver also has won nine of its last 10 road games.
"We have confidence and swagger, and Coach has made us believe
in his way of playing the game," Martin said.
Sam Cassell kept the Wolves in the game in the second half,
scoring 19 of his 27 points after the break. In the fourth quarter,
Cassell scored Minnesota's first eight points and made his first
four shots. But he missed his final four, including the shot that
could have tied it.
"We've got to have all of them so this is a major setback,"
Cassell said. "But it ain't over yet."
Anthony gave Denver the lead for good at 98-96 when he dunked an
alley-oop pass from Miller with 3:17 left in the game. Martin, who
scored 19 in the second half, drove for a layup to extend the lead
to four, and the Wolves never got closer than two the rest of the
Those two key baskets were fitting, as Denver outscored
Minnesota 48-20 in the paint.
"We were getting dunks; they were getting jump shots," Karl
The Wolves used an 11-2 run to tie the score at 89 when Eddie
Griffin tipped in a missed free throw by Fred Hoiberg with 7:08
Denver built a 94-90 lead but Wally Szczerbiak tied it again at
96 with two free throws with 3:29 to play.
Anthony, who averages 20 points per game, nearly had that many
by halftime. He scored 19 in the first half on 7-of-8 shooting from
The Wolves failed to get back on defense on numerous occasions
in the first half. Denver players beat their opponents down the
floor for fast-break dunks on four separate occasions in the first
quarter alone. They outscored Minnesota 30-10 on the fast break.
Minnesota, which shot just 33 percent in the first half, stayed
in the game by making 17 of 19 from the free throw line and trailed
by only three at the break.
The Nuggets also ended some recent frustrations at Target
Center, winning for just the fourth time in their last 17 visits.
... Before the game, Wolves coach Kevin McHale said Karl should get
Coach of the Year consideration, despite his limited stint in
Denver. "I'm telling you from experience that it's hard to take
over a team in the middle of the year," said McHale, who replaced
Flip Saunders as Wolves coach on Feb. 12. ... The sellout crowd of
19,904 was the Wolves' largest home crowd of the season. ...
Miller's 15 assists were a season high and he scored in double
digits for the 11th straight game.