Garnett had 19 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists as Minnesota clinched home-court advantage for the opening round of the playoffs for the first time ever with a 95-87 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
“Our goal was to get the home-court advantage all year and we accomplished that,” Minnesota’s Wally Szczerbiak said.
The Timberwolves ended the season with a 51-31 record and the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference.
Getting home court, for at least one round, gives the Timberwolves a fighting chance in the packed West. Minnesota has never made it to the second round of the playoffs, getting eliminated six straight times.
Garnett, who has been criticized for not leading his team to a series victory, capped a sensational regular season with his league-leading 63rd double-double.
Garnett said leadership is something that builds throughout the season.
“I made sure everybody was ready and I made sure every game that we came out and competed,” he said. “That’s all I can do. We’re grown men here, so I just try to lead and sort of direct and hope that they follow.”
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said playing at home is a definite benefit.
“We have the second-best home record. We are 33-8,” Saunders said. “We’ve won 23 of our last 26 at home and we have a streak of 17 in there. To us, we have a comfort level there.”
The Grizzlies finished 28-54, setting a franchise record for victories but still finishing 32 games behind San Antonio in the Midwest Division.
Memphis also was better at home, going 20-21, and Grizzlies leading scorer Pau Gasol said he felt good about the season overall.
“We worked very hard and did our best. We are a very young team … We have to be proud of ourselves,” Gasol said.
The shot clock on the Grizzlies’ end of the court went out early in the final period, and Memphis had to do with an auxiliary set on the floor at its right corner. The play-by-play announcer gave the count aloud on the final 10 seconds of a Memphis possession.
Memphis coach Hubie Brown said the Grizzlies hurt themselves badly at the foul line, hitting 12 of 23.
“We were playing a team that was fighting to get home-court advantage for the playoffs … and if we had not missed 11 foul shots we would have won the game,” Brown said.
The Grizzlies, having trailed since the opening basket, took their first lead, 53-51, at 9:12 of the third period on a layup by Shane Battier. But Minnesota came back to end the quarter leading 74-65 after scoring the finalsix points of the period.
It was the first time in team history the Grizzlies wrapped up a season at home. … The Timberwolves are 4-0 against the Grizzlies this year and have won all seven meetings since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis last season. … Minnesota leads the series 28-4. … Garnett got his 100th dunk of the season at 7:27 of the first period. … Timberwolves F Joe Smith was sidelined with ahyperextended knee hurt in practice Monday.