The Nuggets sure enjoyed their lopsided Game 3 victory, but they may have made a mistake in the process: angering one of the league’s best players.
“I never forget,” Garnett said. “We got blown out. That’s more motivation than anything.”
There might not be any way for the Nuggets to contain Garnett in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
“He’s going to come out there and he’s going to take it very personal, just as most of us on this team have,” Timberwolves center Michael Olowokandi said. “You will definitely see a lot of fire out there. I feel sorry for whoever has to guard him.”
Garnett was dominant the first two games in Minnesota, averaging 25 points and 21 rebounds in two easy Timberwolves’ victories. In Game 3, the Nuggets were much more physical with him and quicker with double teams in the post.
Garnett still finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but was clearly frustrated by Denver’s approach. He tangled with Denver rookie Carmelo Anthony a couple of times in the fourth quarter and tried to force his way to the basket through double teams numerous times. By the end of the game, Garnett was telling the coaches not to take him out even though the Timberwolves were trailing by 18 points.
If Garnett is upset with the Nuggets, the feeling is mutual.
In the fourth quarter of Game 3, with the game all but out of reach, a loose ball rolled over to Anthony on Denver’s the bench. The rookie acted like he was going to shoot from out of bounds, but Garnett came over and tried to take the ball. Anthony then flipped the ball around him to the officials and Nuggets point guard Andre Miller got off the bench and shoved Garnett away.
Miller got a technical foul and Garnett had to be pulled away after exchanging words with several Nuggets in front of Denver’s bench.
“It’s like pouring gas on the fire,” Nuggets guard Jon Barry said. “Anything else that can get us more motivated, that’s great. We’re not content to be here, we’re looking to win this series. If he wants to give us added motivation, that’s great.”
Tempers are flaring as the series gets tighter and the Timberwolves might be without one of their best players. Forward Wally Szczerbiak is expected to miss the rest of the series after test results Monday showed he suffered three cracked vertebrae in a nasty fall late in Game 3.
Minnesota has experience playing without Szczerbiak. He missed the first half of the season with a strained foot and the Timberwolves still finished with 57 wins and the Western Conference’s best record.
“Our team is a group of professionals,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. “When Wally is not playing they’ve known they had to step up and fill a different role.”