"Bring it on, I love 'The Answer,"' Garnett said Friday night. "We welcome A.I. with open arms. Where's Kevin McHale?"
Garnett had a season-high 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves over the league-leading Jazz 110-103.
McHale, vice president of basketball operations, would not comment on rumors that Iverson would end up in Minnesota. But his star player went so far as to look into a local television camera and make a plea to Iverson.
"Come on, boy," Garnett said. "I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want to play with him."
In a pregame interview, coach Dwane Casey deflected questions about Iverson, who sounds as if he is on his way out of Philadelphia. Afterward, Casey stayed the course.
"That's none of my business," he said. "All I'm concerned with is this roster I have right now."
That roster typically begins and ends with Garnett, who scored 16 points in the decisive third quarter. But, on Friday he got some help from Mike James with a season-high 28 points and Ricky Davis, who added 21. Minnesota has won three straight.
Deron Williams had 21 points and 11 assists for the Jazz, who weren't able to get Jerry Sloan his 1,000th career coaching victory. Mehmet Okur had 18 points, but Carlos Boozer only scored eight on 4-for-17 shooting. Boozer had 13 rebounds.
"Maybe I should retire real quick," joked Sloan, who said he doesn't particularly care about the 1,000 win mark. "Whatever happens, happens."
Minnesota extended a seven-point halftime lead to 94-84 with 5:46 left after James hit a long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and Garnett hit a jumper from the corner.
"You're never going to stop Kevin Garnett," Sloan said. "That is something people have been trying to do as long as he's been around."
Utah got within 98-93, but James hit another big 3-pointer and Utah could not get closer than five the rest of the way.
It was perhaps James' best performance in Minnesota; however, afterwards he also couldn't avoid the Iverson discussion.
"Philly is going to get a lot of players if A.I. comes here," James said. "If I end up in Philly, I know it's business and not personal."
Garnett sparked a Minnesota run midway through the third quarter with a 3-pointer, a blocked shot and an assist on Davis' reverse layup for a 63-57 lead with 5:41 left. It was the Wolves' biggest lead to that point and Garnett helped them push it to 77-70 at the end of the third with his second 3-pointer.
The teams played close throughout the first half, with 13 lead changes and five ties. Neither team led by more than four points and Utah's biggest lead came at halftime, 46-43, when Boozer scored for just the second time.
Garnett led all scorers with eight points in the opening quarter, as Minnesota got out to a 22-21 lead.
"He's long, he's fast and once he gets hot he's hot," Okur said of Garnett.
|Some say that Kevin Garnett is unhappy in Minnesota, but he is always happy when he's winning. (AP)|
|Minnesota (9-9) «||22||21||34||33||110|
|UTA:D. Williams 21 Pts
UTA:C. Boozer 13 Reb
UTA:D. Williams 11 Ast
|MIN:K. Garnett 31 Pts
MIN:K. Garnett 14 Reb
MIN:R. Davis 4 Ast
|Players of the Game|
Timberwolves Embroidered 20th Anniversary Collectible Patch Shop Now!
|D. Williams, PG||42||10-17||0-0||5||11||3||21|
|A. Kirilenko, SF||37||3-7||6-8||5||3||4||12|
|C. Boozer, PF||37||4-17||0-1||13||2||2||8|
|M. Okur, C||36||5-11||5-6||4||1||6||18|
|D. Fisher, PG||30||6-9||5-7||5||4||3||17|
|M. Harpring, SF||25||4-7||2-2||4||1||0||10|
|P. Millsap, PF||18||3-4||3-5||1||0||2||9|
|D. Brown, PG||10||0-2||2-2||1||0||0||2|
|J. Collins, C||5||3-3||0-0||2||0||1||6|
|G. Giricek, SG||Did Not Play|
|R. Araujo, C||Did Not Play|
|C. Miles, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. Powell, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. Brewer, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Davis, SG||40||8-16||4-5||2||4||3||21|
|K. Garnett, PF||39||12-22||5-6||14||1||4||31|
|M. James, PG||39||8-19||10-10||3||3||3||28|
|M. Blount, C||38||3-6||0-0||3||1||4||6|
|T. Hassell, SF||33||6-8||0-0||9||4||2||12|
|M. Jaric, PG||18||1-2||0-0||2||2||3||3|
|C. Smith, PF||17||2-4||0-0||2||1||4||4|
|R. Foye, PG||15||2-5||1-1||0||3||1||5|
|E. Griffin, PF||1||0-0||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|T. Hudson, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Madsen, C||Did Not Play|
|B. Wright, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Reed, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. McCants, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|