MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Dwane Casey walked into the postgame
interview room and let out a huge sigh.
His first head coaching victory was in the books, but it came at
the expense of an old friend.
Kevin Garnett had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists
and Richie Frahm hit his first five 3-pointers on Wednesday night
to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 90-86 victory over the
Portland Trail Blazers and new coach Nate McMillan, who either
coached with or played for Casey in Seattle for the past 11 years.
"It was almost like we were playing against ourselves," Casey
Darius Miles had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Zach Randolph
added 18 and 13 boards, but the Blazers couldn't finish off a
fourth-quarter comeback in McMillan's first game after coming over
from Seattle in the offseason.
The new-look Timberwolves looked sloppy in the first and fourth
quarters, but shot well enough in the second and third to pull out
the victory. Frahm finished with 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak
"I hate to be his first victory," McMillan said. "But I
thought both teams played hard."
McMillan certainly didn't make it easy for his buddy.
Portland rookie Jarrett Jack scored seven points during an 11-0
run in the fourth, and Miles was dominant down the stretch. He had
two straight steals and fast-break baskets, then blocked a shot and
went coast-to-coast for the layup to cut Minnesota's lead to 82-81
with just over 1 minute to play.
"Overall, I think my performance was real good, but it means
nothing with an 'L' behind it," said Miles, who also had five
But Garnett came right back with a 22-footer just inside the
3-point arc and a jump hook over Joel Przybilla in the lane.
Eddie Griffin blocked a shot by Randolph on the other end and
the Wolves finished the game off at the free throw line for the
11th straight season-opening win.
Casey spent 14 seasons as an assistant in Seattle, coaching
McMillan as a player for four seasons, then serving as an assistant
with McMillan for two years under Paul Westphal and finishing with
five years as McMillan's top assistant the past five years.
"It was nice to get coach Casey his first win," Szczerbiak
said. "Hopefully we can bring him many more."
Both McMillan and Casey admitted to having butterflies before
the game, but it was the Wolves who looked more nervous after the
After shooting an NBA-worst 40 percent from the field in the
preseason, the Blazers shot 50 percent in the first quarter to take
a 21-14 lead.
"I thought we were a little tight, first-game jitters," Casey
said. "It was good to get it our of our system. It's good to be
hyped up, but we were a little bit too hyped up."
Casey went to Frahm in the second quarter looking for a spark,
and the third-year player delivered.
He hit all four of his 3-point attempts to help the Wolves dig
out of an 11-point hole.
It was a welcome sight for the Timberwolves, who have been
concerned about replacing Fred Hoiberg. The NBA's leading 3-point
shooter last season, who will most likely be out for the season
while recovering from offseason heart surgery.
After shooting just 33 percent in the first quarter, the
Timberwolves hit 70 percent of their shots in the second period to
take a 48-45 lead at halftime.
The Trail Blazers never led after that, letting McMillan know
that he has a lot of work to do.
"The little things we talked about, we condition for, we
trained for, is what lost the ballgame," McMillan said.
Casey said rookies Bracey Wright and Dwayne Jones would
likely be allocated to the NBDL sometime next week. ... Inactive
for the opener -- Wolves: Ronald Dupree, Wright, Jones; Blazers: Ha
Sueng Jin, Viktor Khryapa, Sergei Monia. ... Przybilla, a Minnesota
native, had six points and six rebounds.