KG Returns to the Garden but Doesn’t Play Against Celtics
BOSTON — (AP) The fans showered former Celtic Kevin Garnett with chants, and Boston rained key 3-pointers on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, Jae Crowder had 18 and the Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-99 on Monday night while the crowd begged to see Garnett.
"Three-point shooting is probably the next most contagious thing to the flu," forward Olynyk joked. "When one person knocks them down, they usually come in waves, so it’s good to get people going that way."
Boston was 12 of 25 from behind the arc, two off its season high.
Tyler Zeller scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out. David Lee had 13 points and eight boards to help Boston snap a three-game losing streak.
Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell said before the game that the 39-year-old Garnett would rest because it was the second of back-to-backs after the Timberwolves beat Brooklyn. The crowd loudly chanted "We want KG!" close to a dozen times.
"I definitely heard all the chants," Garnett said. "It meant a lot to me. I would like to say Minnesota made me a young man and I grew up when I came to Boston."
Garnett signed a two-year deal with Minnesota over the summer, but this could have been his last game in Boston.
Garnett was a member of Boston’s 2007-08 NBA championship team after he was traded from Minnesota in the summer of `07. He played for the Celtics for six seasons, helping them to the finals again in 2010 when they dropped a seven-game series to the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I watched KG growing up and I’ve played against him for seven years, and I know he’s one of the toughest competitors there is," Boston forward Jonas Jerebko said. "I played against him here in Boston and I know how much he was loved here and brought a championship here with this team. It was fun to see."
The 15-time All-Star was traded to Brooklyn after the 2012-13 season. The Nets then dealt him back to the Timberwolves, his original franchise.
Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 26 points. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 and 16 rebounds.
Minnesota has lost its last 10 games in Boston, dating back to a 99-97 victory on March 6, 2005.
The Celtics led by 18 points with 7 minutes to play and the fans changed the chant to "K-G! K-G!"
Finally, giving up hope of seeing him, they serenaded him with "Thank you, KG!" He stood up and waved to a standing ovation as they played "Gino" — a song that became famous during Boston’s championship run.
"That was like the cherry on top for me," Garnett said. "My teammates were asking, `What is this?’ I said, `I’ll explain it later."
The Celtics hit six of their first seven from 3-point range, pulling to a 44-30 lead on James Young’s shot from beyond the arc 3 minutes into the second quarter. They led 60-53 at halftime.
R.J. Hunter nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer at the end of the first, giving Boston a 34-26 edge.
Boston scored 10 straight points to push a seven-point halftime edge to 84-68 late in the third quarter.
Isaiah Thomas thrilled the crowd during the spree by bouncing a pass between his legs to Crowder on the right wing. Crowder nailed a jumper, making it 82-68 before the Timberwolves called timeout. Lee capped the run with a baseline drive.
NOT CHANGING MY MIND
Mitchell wasn’t going to be swayed by the fans, explaining Garnett doesn’t play consecutive games.
"Come on, now," the coach said. "I’m not going to throw him out there because the fans are chanting. If you start listening to the fans, you’re going to be sitting up there with them."
Garnett wasn’t about to bite when asked if this was his final season.
"I just wanted to say thank you all for all the appreciation," he said, ending the press conference as he walked off, smiling.
He hugged and shook hands with a number of Celtics’ employees after the game.
Timberwolves: They were whistled for two technical fouls in the opening 4 minutes. Mitchell had one and G Andre Miller got the other from the bench.
Celtics: Forwards Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) and Jared Sullinger (back spasms) were sidelined. Coach Brad Stevens started Olynyk and Lee. He had C Zeller come off the bench because he liked him "better with the second unit." Zeller picked up three fouls in 2 minutes.
Timberwolves: Host San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Celtics: At Charlotte on Wednesday night.