"Bring it on, I love 'The Answer," Garnett said Friday night.
"We welcome A.I. with open arms. Where's Kevin McHale?"
Garnett had a season-high 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead the
Minnesota Timberwolves over the league-leading Jazz 110-103.
McHale, vice president of basketball operations, would not
comment on rumors that Iverson would end up in Minnesota. But his
star player went so far as to look into a local television camera
and make a plea to Iverson.
"Come on, boy," Garnett said. "I can't think of anyone who
wouldn't want to play with him."
In a pregame interview, coach Dwane Casey deflected questions
about Iverson, who sounds as if he is on his way out of
Philadelphia. Afterward, Casey stayed the course.
"That's none of my business," he said. "All I'm concerned
with is this roster I have right now."
That roster typically begins and ends with Garnett, who scored
16 points in the decisive third quarter. But, on Friday he got some
help from Mike James with a season-high 28 points and Ricky Davis,
who added 21. Minnesota has won three straight.
Deron Williams had 21 points and 11 assists for the Jazz, who
weren't able to get Jerry Sloan his 1,000th career coaching
victory. Mehmet Okur had 18 points, but Carlos Boozer only scored
eight on 4-for-17 shooting. Boozer had 13 rebounds.
"Maybe I should retire real quick," joked Sloan, who said he
doesn't particularly care about the 1,000 win mark. "Whatever
Minnesota extended a seven-point halftime lead to 94-84 with
5:46 left after James hit a long 3-pointer as the shot clock
expired and Garnett hit a jumper from the corner.
"You're never going to stop Kevin Garnett," Sloan said. "That
is something people have been trying to do as long as he's been
Utah got within 98-93, but James hit another big 3-pointer and
Utah could not get closer than five the rest of the way.
It was perhaps James' best performance in Minnesota; however,
afterwards he also couldn't avoid the Iverson discussion.
"Philly is going to get a lot of players if A.I. comes here,"
James said. "If I end up in Philly, I know it's business and not
Garnett sparked a Minnesota run midway through the third quarter
with a 3-pointer, a blocked shot and an assist on Davis' reverse
layup for a 63-57 lead with 5:41 left. It was the Wolves' biggest
lead to that point and Garnett helped them push it to 77-70 at the
end of the third with his second 3-pointer.
The teams played close throughout the first half, with 13 lead
changes and five ties. Neither team led by more than four points
and Utah's biggest lead came at halftime, 46-43, when Boozer scored
for just the second time.
Garnett led all scorers with eight points in the opening
quarter, as Minnesota got out to a 22-21 lead.
"He's long, he's fast and once he gets hot he's hot," Okur
said of Garnett.
The Wolves were 6-for-13 from 3-point range. Garnett was
2-for-2. ... Sloan talked about the 1,000 wins before the game.
"All it is, is a number," he said. "It's not been one of my
ambitions. I haven't won a championship yet." Sloan is looking to
join Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson, Pat Riley and Larry Brown in the
1,000-win club. "Just being involved with basketball and the game
I love is enough," he added. ... Boozer had led the Jazz in
scoring the previous five games.