MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since Kevin Garnett put on a Celtics jersey in 2007, the Timberwolves beat Boston on Monday night, a 110-100 victory that capped off a grueling homestand against playoff-bound teams.
If that win, that snapped streak, isn’t a landmark of the most pathologic type, then what is?
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves in terms of their quest for karmic retribution, Garnett was not on the court for Monday’s win.
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Fortunately for the Timberwolves in terms of their realistic chances at a win, Garnett wasn’t available to rip them to shreds for no reason other than some lighthearted vengeance.
And so it was possible for a circus-like rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” it to clank through the Target Center with 4:00 left in the game and the Timberwolves up, 104-91. So it was possible for Nikola Pekovic, who led the team with 29 points just two days after sitting with a sprained left ankle, to dissolve into the closest thing to a giggle that a man of his size and girth might emit in the locker room after. So it was possible for Rick Adelman to feign annoyance at his dominant big man’s performance rather than actually be annoyed by much of anything.
“Yeah, looks like it’s alright,” Adelman said of Pekovic after the game. “Although we did mention his five rebounds.”
It’s true. The center who averages 8.9 rebounds per game roped in just five on Monday, and afterwards, he told his coach that he was just an offensive player that night. No time for rebounds, not when you’re 11-of-11 from the free throw line and 9-of-15 from the field.
Ask Pekovic, dubbed “the big monster” by Doc Rivers after the game, about those claims, and usher in those gruffest of giggles.
“Yeah,” Pekovic said. “He was giving me all that . . . ” And the laughter returns. He knows he played well. He knows his coach is full of you-know-what, at least in this instance.
Sure, Boston’s three best players — Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce — were out. It was their JV squad, so to speak, but these Timberwolves will take a win however they can get one at this point. Plus, yet another 100-plus point night is showing that Minnesota’s offense is starting to click, and no matter how little and how late, these players will take what they can get.
There’s some smug satisfaction in a win like Monday’s. Not because it got Adelman within two games of 1,000 wins. Not because it’s Garnett’s team. Not because those are the Celtics and these are the Timberwolves, and we all know who stands where in the NBA hierarchy.
No, Adelman’s satisfaction comes when he looks at his bench, full of players in actual uniforms who are living up to his expectations. For once, his was the healthy team, the opponents more injured than these Timberwolves. When asked how it felt, this rarest of phenomena, Adelman needed just three words:
“It felt good.”
If Pekovic was “alright,” then interpret the magnitude of “good” as you will.