The Minnesota Timberwolves found out how difficult life can be without star Kevin Garnett. They’ll be happy to welcome him—and guard Ricky Davis—back into the lineup when they visit the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Garnett and Davis, the team’s top two scorers, both were serving one-game suspensions and Minnesota desperately missed their presence on Sunday, when it lost 131-102 to Phoenix in the opener of a five-game road trip.
“It was tough out there without those two guys,” said rookie guard Randy Foye, who matched his career-high with 25 points in his first career start. “Kevin Garnett brings so much attention, and to see the way they were doubling our guys, just imagine if Kevin was out there with his playmaking ability. It would’ve been a good game.”
Garnett, who leads the Timberwolves with 22.2 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, was suspended following an altercation with Detroit’s Antonio McDyess in Minnesota’s 104-98 double-overtime loss on Friday. McDyess hit Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen with a forearm and Garnett responded by chucking the ball at him. McDyess then charged at Garnett with his fist cocked and Garnett answered by taking a swipe at him.
Both players were ejected but Garnett received the one-game ban from the league for the swing.
Davis was suspended by the Timberwolves (20-19) because he left the bench and walked into the locker room during Friday’s contest. Without Garnett and Davis—averaging 15.4 points—the undermanned Timberwolves were no match for the red-hot Suns, who won their 13th in a row and handed Minnesota its third straight loss.
“I was proud of how our guys competed without our two leading scorers,” said Minnesota coach Dwane Casey, whose team is 5-15 all-time without Garnett. “I thought they did everything they could. But Phoenix is one of the best teams I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve been around it for a while.”
The Timberwolves had won three straight away from home, but Sunday’s loss was not the best way to begin one of two five-game road swings this season. It could get worse for Minnesota against the Jazz, who return home after winning the last three games of a four-game trip.
Utah (27-14) had lost a season-high four straight, but turned it around with road victories over Detroit, Toronto and Chicago.
“This was like a playoff game,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said after Utah beat the Bulls 95-85 on Saturday. “Every possession was important to us.”
Sloan moved into fourth-place all-time on the coaching wins list and now has 1,011 victories, one more than Larry Brown.
“He’s such a good teacher,” said Mehmet Okur, who had 21 points. “He likes to teach everyday. We’re hungry. This is my third year (with Utah), and I’ve learned a lot of things from him. He’s always honest. … I’m so glad I’m here with him.”
The Jazz—14-4 at EnergySolutions Arena—lead the Timberwolves by six games in the Northwest Division. Minnesota won 110-103 at home on Dec. 8 in the teams’ first matchup this season, snapping Utah’s three-game winning streak in the series.
Before that, the Timberwolves had won six of the previous seven meetings.