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Similar, yet different

Spurs' Duncan has advantages over Wolves' Garnett

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Posted: Saturday April 28, 2001 1:21 AM

  Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett The Spurs' Tim Duncan battles Minnesota's Kevin Garnett for a rebound. Ronald Martinez/Allsport

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, two of the NBA's elite power forwards, were born within a month of each other in 1976. The obvious comparisons end there.

Duncan, who won an NBA title as a second-year player in 1999, has been to places Garnett can only imagine.

The San Antonio Spurs, who have a 2-0 lead over Minnesota in their best-of-five series, can keep it that way Saturday if the Timberwolves are eliminated in the first round for the fifth time in Garnett's six seasons in the NBA.

Garnett's Timberwolves, as emotional as Duncan's Spurs are low-key and determined, are counting on a raucous home crowd to help bring them two victories and send them back to San Antonio.

"This place is going to be nuts, and that's how I like it," Garnett said.

He and Duncan took much different paths to the NBA.

Duncan, who turned 25 on Wednesday, developed his game at Wake Forest. Packing 40 more pounds than Garnett, he would be a center on just about any other team.

Garnett, who turns 25 on May 19, came to the league straight out of high school in 1995. At a lean 220, he is as comfortable playing small forward as he is on the blocks.

Duncan also has been surrounded by teammates Garnett can only imagine. Garnett has never played next to a center remotely as talented as David Robinson.

"Tim's fundamentally really good and fundamentally sound and disciplined in a lot of things," Garnett said.

"So are Chris [Webber], and Antonio [McDyess], and Juwan [Howard] and Rasheed [Wallace].

"What makes him really, really good is David Robinson. He has that one entity that makes them a hell of a pair. Not to take anything away from him, but David Robinson definitely makes his job easier."

Duncan takes no offense. He agrees with Garnett.

"I've been blessed since I've come into this league," Duncan said. "I've been given a great team with great chemistry. People here accept their roles. David's playing his role. I'm playing my role. With each other, we're much better than we are without each other."

Garnett, by contrast, has continued to reach the playoffs with new sets of teammates. Players such as Stephon Marbury, Tom Gugliotta, Bobby Jackson, Joe Smith have come and gone.

"That shows the greatness of Garnett," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. Garnett vows to keep pursuing an NBA title with the Wolves -- and only the Wolves -- no matter how long it takes.

"Hey, winning three games is hard, especially when you're playing one of the best teams in the league," he said. "It's a goal. It's not something that's easy. If y'all have learned anything from me, I'm not a person who jumps ship when the going gets bad. I was here when we were terrible, and I'll be here when we're great."

 
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