Garnett, T'wolves cant' keep pace with Spurs' twin towers
Updated: Friday April 27, 2001 9:02 PM
The T'wolves' best defensive option, Dean Garrett, has started alongside Kevin Garnett against San Antonio big men Tim Duncan and David Robinson, but that choice also comes with a price. Garrett scored only one point in 14 minutes of Game 2.
The Wolves' four-headed center, which includes third-year player Rasho Nesterovic, hasn't been the monster against the Spurs that it was at times this season.
San Antonio can sweep the best-of-five series Saturday in Minneapolis and Duncan and Robinson are the reason why.
Against most teams, the Timberwolves can let Garnett take on one big man and select the player who is best suited to exploit the other. Some games, that's Ellis taking 3-pointers or grabbing offensive rebounds. Others, it's the 255-pound Slater backing his way to the basket.
There is little to exploit against 7-footers Duncan and Robinson, and the Wolves would be giving up four to six inches by letting the 6-8 Ellis or the 6-7 Slater defend either of them. Nesterovic, whose confidence appears shaken, began the season as a starter but has played little during the second half of the season.
"You can't match up with the two 7-footers," Spurs guard Derek Anderson said. "Not with talent."
The Wolves have been starting out with the 6-11 Garrett, who averaged just 12 minutes and 2.5 points during the regular season. Most of Ellis' 31 minutes in Game 2 came after the game was decided, and many were at forward. Slater has played only 14 minutes in the two games.
"Late in the season, you're trying to win games to get into the playoffs," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "One of the guys who gave us the best opportunity to do that was Reggie. We thought our best opportunity against San Antonio was with Dean-o."
Garrett started out against Robinson, who had 11 points and nine rebounds in Game 1. After Duncan scored 33 points in the playoff opener, the T'wolves used Garrett in double-teams against him in Game 2. Duncan missed his first four shots of that game, but finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
"I thought I did a decent job on David, though I let him have two baskets I wish I could have back from him," Garrett said. "I thought I did a decent job on Tim, too. He gets the ball in there so often and is so offensive-minded, I thought I did a good job holding him down."
Garrett also scored 10 points in Game 1 but missed two jump shots in the last two minutes.
"We just have to be a little better inside," Saunders said. "We have to find a way to score inside."
That might mean more minutes for Ellis and Slater, but it might also mean creating lanes for Wally Szczerbiak, who has taken only 16 shots, or Anthony Peeler, who is 6-for-29 in the series. Anderson, who played against them with the Los Angeles Clippers last season, remembers what it's like to drive on Duncan and Robinson.
"I never dunked on either of them, and I try to dunk on everybody," Anderson said. "I don't think I ever tried. I know what guys go through when they go in. I can see their pain."