Celtics 104, Timberwolves 94

Kevin Garnett sure looked as though he wanted to remind the

Minnesota Timberwolves what they’ve been missing these last five

years.

Garnett scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and remained

unbeaten against his former team as the Boston Celtics beat the

Timberwolves 104-94 on Wednesday night in Rajon Rondo’s return from

a two-game suspension.

The Celtics improved to 10-0 against Minnesota since they

acquired Garnett from the Timberwolves during the summer of 2007.

They also won for the 11th straight time against Minnesota.

Asked if Garnett still liked to play against his old team,

Boston coach Doc Rivers didn’t hesitate.

”What do you think?” he said.

When the reporter answered ”yes,” Rivers smiled and replied:

”That’s a good answer.”

Celtics teammate Paul Pierce, who scored 18 points, downplayed

all that, saying Garnett just likes to face good young players such

as Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.

”I think he just accepts the challenges of playing against some

of the top players in the game,” Pierce said.

Minnesota is the only other team Garnett has played for in his

17-year career. Garnett looked motivated from start to finish, even

coming out and swiping the ball out of Love’s hands in front of

Boston’s bench early in the final quarter.

”We established the post, I thought, early on. I thought

defensively we played with a lot of energy,” Garnett said. ”We

made them go to their second and third options, which is something

they don’t like to do.”

Love could see Garnett’s energy sparked Boston’s other

players.

”He’s intense,” Love said. ”He’s K.G. He’s a guy that

defensively, he’ll clamp down on you. He didn’t leave me out there

more than once tonight, really clamped in.”

Boston went 1-1 without Rondo, suspended for his role in a

scuffle during a game against the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday.

Rondo had 17 points and 11 assists. Jason Terry scored 17 and

Brandon Bass 12.

Love led the Timberwolves with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Nikola

Pekovic had 14 with nine boards.

Minnesota went just 6 for 19 from 3-point range one night after

hitting a season-high 13 3s in a win over Philadelphia. The

Timberwolves also went 14 for 30 from the free throw line.

”We’re not going to win if we miss 16 free throws or whatever

it was. That’s terrible,” Minnesota guard Jose Barea said.

Boston, which led by seven entering the final quarter, scored 11

of the initial 14 points in the fourth and opened a 90-75 lead on

Terry’s 3 from the left wing with 7:50 to play. The Timberwolves

went nearly 5 minutes without a basket.

The Celtics maintained between a 14 and 12-point lead over the

next 3 minutes, keeping the Timberwolves from making a run by

nailing a handful of free throws before a spinning, crowd-pleasing

basket by Rondo made it 100-85 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The Celtics used a 9-0 run over 2 minutes to open a 67-61 lead

on Terry’s 3-pointer midway into the third.

Minnesota, coming off a 17-point win in Philadelphia on Tuesday,

scored the last five points of the half to grab a 51-47 edge at the

break.

The Celtics opened the game 10 for 13, but cooled off late in

the first quarter, missing six of their last nine shots and trailed

30-27 after one.

Love headed to the bench early when he picked up his second foul

– both on offense – with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

NOTES: Minnesota held its opponents under 90 points in three of

the previous four games – all wins. It’s a commitment to defense

that coach Rick Adelman saw at the beginning of the season. ”We’ve

had a great work ethic,” he said. ”The guys are working hard on

it.” The Timberwolves entered having allowed the fourth-fewest

points in the NBA. … Boston G Avery Bradley, sidelined since

shoulder operations at the end of last season, said he expects to

be able to practice in ”one to two weeks.” … Rivers compared

Love’s ability to rebound to that of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman.

”I played with, I think, one of the greatest rebounders all-time –

Dennis Rodman,” he said. ”I watched him at the (London) Olympics

and said, `He seems to know where the ball is going when it’s in

the air.”’ Love then went out and grabbed an offensive rebound on

Minnesota’s first shot of the game. … Rondo got a loud ovation

when he was introduced in the starting lineups. … Garnett played

his 1,273rd game, one behind Minnesota assistant Terry Porter for

17th all-time.