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Garnett leads Timberwolves past Nuggets

Nov 4, 2006 - 5:00 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett is off to a strong start. So are the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Garnett had 27 points and 15 rebounds as the Timberwolves posted a 112-109 victory over the frustrated Denver Nuggets.

Garnett was 9-of-16 from the field and added three blocks. It was the second straight big game for the 2004 NBA MVP, who appears out to prove last season's 33-49 record was an aberration.

"Kevin is refreshed this year," Timberwolves guard Ricky Davis said. "It's a whole other Kevin. He wants the ball down there in late situations and that's what we need to do. Go through Kevin late in the game and let him operate and put it on us to make open shots and make the right decision with the ball."

The 30-year-old forward had nine points, five rebounds and a block in the final period.

"Coach Casey has understood since day one that come the fourth quarter I'm going to make the decisions," Garnett said. "If he doesn't like it then we'll have a conversation. Me and Casey are always on the same page. He gives me the freedom to go out there and quarterback."

The nine-time All-Star had 24 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday in Minnesota's 92-83 season-opening win vs. Sacramento.

"Tonight we executed well in the fourth," Garnett said. "We were very focused on what we wanted to do. We came out, made plays and got some stops when we had to."

Denver twice had chances to tie the game, but Carmelo Anthony's 3-pointers both missed the mark and time expired.

"I tried to get the three, I missed it," Anthony said. "I had chances and I missed them. I wanted it. This is just my self-confidence. I felt like I'm gonna make it. We are only two games into the season, we've got 80 more. I'm guaranteeing we aren't going to start slow like last year. Last night it was close, tonight was close. We've got to figure out how to close those games out."

"The shots we got were awful, that's my fault, my responsibility," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "But I thought it wasn't only a three-point situation. We could have gotten a quick two, and get into a try to steal the ball situation."

Rookie Craig Smith scored 20 points and Davis added 19 for the Timberwolves, who shot 52 percent (42-of-81).

"He (Smith) was huge," Timberwolves coach Dwayne Casey said. "He played a great game off the bench. He rebounded the ball and did a good job of really being a beast in the paint. He has a quick up-shot. He reminds me a lot of Bernard King."

"Smith played big tonight," Garnett said. "I told you all and I'm going to continue to pump the Craig Smith campaign. The kid's playing out of his mind. Craig is a big addition to the team. I love him to death."

Anthony and Earl Boykins each scored 28 points for Denver (0-2).

"I'm fine in the offense, but on the defensive end we have to get stops in the fourth quarter and we haven't done that these past two nights," Boykins said. "I just came out aggressive tonight. These are two tough losses. As a group, we have to stay together and stay positive."

The Nuggets suffered a 96-95 loss in Thursday's opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony was ejected for tossing his headband in the direction of an official and Boykins' jumper with no time remaining was blocked by Elton Brand.

"It's tough, especially when we lost two in a row," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "We gotta get back out there. Having the extra practice time can't hurt. We just didn't get shots to fall."

The Nuggets shot 51 percent (43-of-85) and received 18 points from Andre Miller, who was 0-of-11 from the field Thursday.

Denver had beaten Minnesota in three of the last four meetings and five of six at the Pepsi Center.

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