Tuesday, November 30, 2004

4 'Wolves on Ballot

from NBA.com

Minnesota Timberwolves fans now have the opportunity to vote for their favorite players as starters for the 54th NBA All-Star Game as the 2005 NBA All-Star Balloting program began today. Timberwolves' guards Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell along with forwards Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak appear on this year's ballot. Timberwolves fans can vote for their favorite players on www.nba.com, or via in-arena ballots at Target Center. Balloting continues through Jan. 23, 2005. This year’s All-Star festivities will be held in Denver on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Garnett, who has made seven consecutive NBA All-Star appearances and has been voted a Western Conference starter six consecutive seasons through the fan voting process, led all Western Conference players in voting with 1,780,918 votes a year ago. Sprewell is vying for his fifth all-star appearance, while Szczerbiak and Cassell have been named to the all-star team one time each in their NBA careers

Ten years ago, NBA All-Star Balloting extended beyond the United States for the first time, when ballots were made available to fans in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. A decade later, fans will have the opportunity to vote in more ways than ever as the balloting program for the 2005 NBA All-Star Game has expanded to include 19 languages on the NBA.com Network, downloadable ballots via Verizon Wireless and approximately 150 Loews Cineplex Entertainment movie theaters in the United States. Twentieth Century Fox this year joins Sprite, America Online, Reebok and approximately 2100 Foot Locker and Champs Sports stores in the United States and Canada as All-Star balloting partners.

NBA All-Star 2005 is a week-long celebration that enables fans to experience the thrill of the world’s greatest athletes playing the game they love and features a full slate of community enhancing activities and fan festivals.

A total of 120 players - 60 from the Eastern and Western Conferences - are listed on the NBA All-Star ballot, with 24 guards, 24 forwards and 12 centers from each conference comprising the ballot. Voters select two guards, two forwards and one center from each conference. The 120 players on the ballot were selected by a panel of media experts who regularly cover the NBA. This year’s panel included; Ric Bucher (ESPN the Magazine), Mark Heisler (Los Angeles Times), Ernie Johnson (Turner Sports), Jack McCallum (Sports Illustrated) and Sam Smith (Chicago Tribune and President, Professional Basketball Writers’ Association). For a complete list of NBA players on the ballot visit www.nba.com.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Garnett Delivers For Timberwolves

from NBA.com

The Minnesota Timberwolves took advantage of Tracy McGrady's absence to record their first road win of the season.

Kevin Garnett scored 20 points and Sam Cassell added 18 and both made some big shots down the stretch as the Timberwolves posted a 96-91 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Garnett, who also had 17 rebounds and nine assists, struggled offensively for much of the game but came alive when it counted, scoring seven points in the fourth quarter. After Cassell hit a jumper to give Minnesota a 90-87 edge, Garnett drained a 14-footer for a five-point lead with 1:40 left.

The Rockets, who had won three in a row, responded with four straight points from Yao Ming. But again Garnett responded, grabbing an offensive rebound after Cassell missed a jumper and just beating the shot clock with a 19-footer with 8.3 seconds left.

"We were just trying to bounce back from the Pacers loss" said Garnett, whose club lost 102-101 to Indiana on Tuesday. "I wasn't happy with that loss at all. We move the ball well. They did a lot of fronting, and we moved the ball around and came out focused."

"We can make shots," said Cassell, who spent his first three seasons with Houston. "We're a shot-making ballclub. But the defense for us was excellent tonight."

Jim Jackson was called for an illegal screen as the Rockets tried to in-bound the ball and Wally Szczerbiak made a pair of free throws to cap the scoring.

"I thought it was a terrible call, nothing more, nothing less," Jackson said. "That didn't lose us the game, but it didn't give us a chance to shoot either. Maybe he (the referee) saw something we didn't see. He said that I tried to set a pick, but I was the shooter."

"We played 36 hard minutes, real hard minutes tonight, and that is not good enough," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy was alluding to a poor first quarter in which Minnesota built a 35-24 lead. The Timberwolves made seven straight shots, including a 3-pointer by former Rocket Eddie Griffin, in a 19-7 run late in the period.

"This is a first-quarter league, not a fourth-quarter league," said Van Gundy, whose team has trailed at halftime and after three quarters in four of its six games. "We don't have that down yet.

"Down in Detroit, down in Toronto, down tonight; we were able to escape with the win the other night against Memphis with the same start as tonight but we weren't able to overcome it (against Minnesota)."

Griffin struggled on and off the court in two seasons with the Rockets before being released in 2003. He was logging his first significant minutes of the season after a three-game suspension and responded with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Griffin's second 3-pointer with less than five minutes left snapped an 83-83 tie and gave Minnesota the lead for good.

"He doesn't say much but he is a (heck) of a player," Garnett said. "He is making the most of his opportunities and I just told him to stay aggressive."

"Eddie played extremely well," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "He made some big shots and had some big blocks. He did a great job fronting Yao when (Michael Olowokandi) was in foul trouble."

Griffin said the Houston fans' boos didn't bother him.

"I did expect it," he said. "It just made me play harder. It didn't bother me. I knew as soon as they announced my name, I'd be booed. It's nice to show (Rockets fans) I can play."

McGrady, who had scored 53 points over the first two games of the Rockets' winning streak, left Tuesday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies with strains in his right hip and groin and was in street clothes vs. Minnesota.

Yao picked up the slack with 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Maurice Taylor added 19 for Houston, which was outrebounded, 41-33.

"We knew without Tracy McGrady, (Yao) would get twice as many touches," Saunders said. "He played well."

The Rockets cut the Timberwolves' double-digit lead to one on five occasions before taking a 72-71 edge with 10:39 left on a layup by Ryan Bowen. The teams exchanged leads three more times before Griffin's big shot set the tone down the stretch.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Timberwolves Recover Nicely After Slow Start

From NBA.com

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 29 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and Eddie Griffin chipped in 15 off the bench as the Minnesota Timberwolves posted a 102-95 victory over the Detroit Pistons in the preseason finale for both teams.

Picked by many to win the Western Conference and meet the defending champion Pistons in the NBA Finals, the Timberwolves overcame a 13-point deficit after one quarter.

Garnett did his best to keep it close, scoring 14 in the first quarter, including Minnesota's first six. Anthony Carter had three steals and a pair of baskets during a second-quarter run and Troy Hudson had all nine of his points in the third as the Timberwolves took control of the game.

Minnesota outscored Detroit 58-37 in the second half.

The Pistons went on an 11-1 run in the fourth to trim the deficit to five, but Michael Olowokandi converted a three-point play for a 93-85 lead with 4:01 left.

Griffin, who was signed by the Timberwolves on Oct. 5 after plenty of off-the-court problems, added a pair of blocks in his best game of the preseason.

Minnesota beat Detroit twice in the preseason en route to a 4-4 record. It opens the regular season at home on Wednesday against the New York Knicks.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points for the Pistons before picking up his second technical foul with 3:12 remaining. Ben Wallace contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Detroit wrapped up the preseason with a 3-5 mark and will begin its defense of its crown by hosting the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.