MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The Timberwolves said defense and
controlling the tempo were the keys to beating the Grizzlies.
Kevin Garnett had 28 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, Ricky
Davis added 27 points and seven assists, and Minnesota weathered
Memphis' late rally to defeat the Grizzlies 116-110 on Friday
The 116 points were a season-high for Minnesota, but down the
stretch the Timberwolves made stops against the Grizzlies, while
Memphis' lack of defense prevented them from overtaking Minnesota.
"We had to make sure we didn't get into a Memphis-type of game,
up and down, back and forth, bucket for bucket," Garnett said.
"We didn't want to do that. We wanted to slow them down and make
them do something else."
Minnesota took an early lead and extended it to 22 in the second
period. While Memphis finally got the deficit under 10 midway
through the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies never played enough
defense to get any closer than the final margin. Memphis failed
again to win back-to-back games. The Grizzlies, who beat the Lakers
on Monday night, have not won two straight all season.
"I think the key to holding them off was getting that big lead
early in the game and establishing the tempo," Davis said. "If we
had been up only eight or 10, they would have pushed it and made it
a closer game."
Minnesota won for the fifth time in six games. The Timberwolves'
last six games have all been decided by six points or less.
It marked the 13th straight game in which a Memphis opponent
surpassed the century mark.
Down the stretch, the Timberwolves were holding off Miller and a
group of reserves. Starters Rudy Gay and Damon Stoudamire didn't
get off the bench, and Gasol played a sparse 1:32 during the
closing period. Interim coach Tony Barone didn't talk about Gasol's
absence down the stretch.
"I was fine. Just a couple of bad actions on my part," Gasol
said when asked about it. "A couple of turnovers. I could have
Memphis got off to one of its worst starts in Barone's
seven-game tenure. Minnesota limited the Grizzlies to 35 percent
shooting in the first period, when the Timberwolves shot 62
percent, and held a 17-5 rebounding edge and a 17-point lead.
"I think the key to the game was that we got into that funk in
the first," Barone said. "That hadn't happened to us yet."
The Timberwolves extended the lead in the second period to 22,
their biggest advantage of the night, and took a 64-49 bulge into
the locker room at halftime.
Garnett led Minnesota with 14, while starting guards Davis and
James contributed 11 points and five assists apiece in the first
In addition to controlling the boards, Minnesota hustled after
every loose ball and hit all 17 of its free throws in the half. The
Timberwolves missed only one of their 27 foul shots on the
Only Gasol's 16 first-half points and Miller's 11 kept Memphis
Minnesota also slowed down Memphis' fastbreak. After scoring 39
fastbreak points -- matching a Grizzlies' franchise record -- against
the Lakers on Monday night, Memphis was limited to four breakaway
points through the first three quarters. Memphis finished with 10
points off the break. Minnesota had only two.
"I don't think offense was the thing we were worried about,"
Garnett said. "When [Memphis] played the Lakers [Monday night],
they scored 46 points in a quarter. That's unheard of.
"We knew they were going to give us some buckets. I think it
was us coming down and stopping them."
Memphis got a bit of an energy boost from Cardinal, who came off
the bench for some hustle plays, and Miller, who scored 10 in the
third quarter, to cut into Minnesota's lead slightly.
Even so, the Timberwolves took a 91-79 lead into the final
period and held on through the Memphis rally.
"We did an excellent job creating our tempo early," Minnesota
coach Dwane Casey said. "We had to do it because we didn't want to
get into a race with them. We had to end the fastbreak type of
Minnesota F Eddie Griffin began serving his five-game
suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The
suspension was announced earlier Friday. Griffin had not played in
the last 13 games. ... Minnesota' 36 first-quarter points were a
Timberwolves season-high for a quarter. ... Memphis entered the
game winning four of its last six against Minnesota. ... The
Grizzlies' new offense has resulted in Memphis surpassing 100
points in six of seven games under Barone. They are averaging 116.6
under the interim coach.