Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 10/29

Game 1: Wednesday, October 29th
Game 2: Tuesday, February 24th

Bucks 89

(0-1, 0-1 away)

7:00 PM ET, October 29, 2003

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

1 2 3 4 T
MIL 16 25 25 2389
MIN 27 27 17 2495

Top Performers

Milwaukee: E. Strickland 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

Minnesota: K. Garnett 25 Pts, 21 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

Minnesota withstands Bucks' rally

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Though many will be focused this season on Minnesota's new players, Kevin Garnett can never be ignored.

Garnett had 25 points, 21 rebounds and six assists as the Timberwolves hung on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-89 Wednesday night in the opener for two teams sporting a much different look.

"I was definitely hyped," Garnett said. "The talent is there."

Newcomers Sam Cassell (18 points), Latrell Sprewell (15 points) and Michael Olowokandi (11 points, nine rebounds) helped Garnett, as did holdover reserve Gary Trent (14 points).

Kevin Garnett
"That's what Spree and I are supposed to do, take the pressure off Kevin on both ends of the floor," Cassell said.

Michael Redd and Desmond Mason each had 16 points for Milwaukee, playing its first game under rookie coach Terry Porter -- hired to replace George Karl.

The young Bucks trailed by 17 points late in the first half, but they climbed back in the third quarter to trim the lead to five. Toni Kukoc found Redd for a wide-open dunk at the buzzer to pull Milwaukee to 71-66.

"You don't get nothing for fighting back," Mason said.

The Bucks, who trailed the whole game, cut it to 87-85 on former Timberwolves forward Joe Smith's tip-in with 1:13 remaining after Garnett missed a jumper.

But Garnett, a six-time All-Star and the league's highest-paid player this season at $28 million, made amends by hitting a turnaround from 15 feet with 50 seconds left to make it 89-85.

"He's our leader -- there's no doubt about that," said Fred Hoiberg, who started in place of Wally Szczerbiak. Only four players from last season's team are back for Minnesota, and two -- Troy Hudson (ankle) and Szczerbiak (foot) -- are on the injured list.

The crowd of 17,784 liked the new look. Sprewell threw an alley-oop to Garnett for the game's first points. Mark Madsen, who left the Los Angeles Lakers, took off 2 feet inside the free throw line and threw down a dunk in second quarter to give the Wolves their biggest lead, 54-37.

Minnesota coach Flip Saunders sensed more energy inside Target Center than he had in some time.

"I don't know if it was the new scoreboard, or if it was opening night or what," he said. "But I think this is going to be a fun place to come watch this year."

With this influx of new faces, there's some question about how the ball will be distributed. Cassell was 6-for-18, but Saunders chalked that up to his third-quarter plea for more aggressiveness when the Wolves went conservative and got cold (shooting 7-for-25 in the period).

"At times, we played dynamically on both offense and defense," Saunders said. "At some point, everybody out there had their moments."

The Bucks -- who cleared out Cassell, Ervin Johnson, Ray Allen, Gary Payton and Anthony Mason in the past year -- are rebuilding, and it showed.

Porter, who played 17 seasons with Portland, Minnesota, Miami and San Antonio, winced through most of the first half as the Timberwolves dominated inside, scoring 34 points in the paint to Milwaukee's 14. The Bucks shot 39.1 percent (18-for-46) in the first half and looked lost several times on offense.

"I just think we dug ourselves a really big hole early," Mason said.

Smith and Erick Strickland each had 14 points, and Tim Thomas and Brian Skinner added 12 apiece. Pleased by the comeback, Porter wasn't satisfied with the early effort.

"There are no moral victories in this league," he said. "That doesn't work. You hear of coaches that have gotten fired because of moral victories. It's about winning in this league."

Game notes

Milwaukee rookie PG T.J. Ford sat out with a sore right ankle. He's day-to-day. ... Minnesota's original owners, Harvey Ratner and Marv Wolfenson, were honored before the game. So were Timberwolves assistant Sidney Lowe and Bucks assistant Sam Mitchell, two of the Timberwolves' starters in their inaugural season. ... Milwaukee C Joel Przybilla, who played at Monticello High School and the University of Minnesota, is on the injured list with tendinitis in his right knee. ... It was Garnett's sixth career 20-20. ... Cassell and Johnson came to Minnesota in a June trade that sent Smith and Anthony Peeler to Milwaukee. Peeler was released and signed by Sacramento.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press