Kevin Garnett had stepped on the court against his former franchise seven times. He had walked away a winner each time after imposing his unyielding will on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
All the past success didn't matter one bit Friday night. Garnett and the star-studded Brooklyn Nets are finding out their reputations will get them nowhere this season.
Kevin Love had 17 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in just 28 minutes, and the Timberwolves beat Garnett for the first time since he left Minnesota in a 111-81 victory over the woeful Nets on Friday night.
Garnett finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes and these aging, banged-up Nets were no match for the younger, faster Timberwolves. Mikhail Prokhorov's $190 million team has lost four in a row and seven of its last eight to fall to 3-9.
"We created this monster. We've got to deal with it," Garnett seethed. "You're going to have the business of basketball come into play I'm sure and management is probably going to do what they've got to do, but that's out of our hands. We've got to control our own destiny, who we are as individuals and players. So like I said, for the fifth time, look at yourself and try to fix this thing."
Nikola Pekovic had 15 points and seven boards and the Wolves blew the game open after Garnett received a technical and a flagrant foul for getting physical with Love in the paint. The testy exchange ignited a 16-0 run in the third quarter for Minnesota.
The Nets played without Deron Williams (sprained left ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms), Brook Lopez (sprained left ankle) and Jason Terry (bruised left knee). It was the third time they've lost by at least 21 points this season, certainly not what anyone expected during their banner summer of trades and signings.
"Everybody's frustrated," Garnett said. "I don't think there's a happy person in here or a guy who's smiling. There's nothing to be smiling about right now."
They were down big early thanks to a horrendous first quarter in which they shot 21 percent and turned the ball over nine times. Love took it to them with nine points and 11 boards in the first 12 minutes, but things really got out of hand in the third.
Garnett spent 12 years in Minnesota to start his career and was wounded when the Wolves traded him to Boston to start a rebuilding project in 2007. He always had his way with Love and the Wolves, and he tried to bully them again on Friday night.
Love responded in the third, swatting Garnett's hands away, and KG reacted with a forearm shiver to Love's chest. Garnett received a technical and a flagrant, and the Wolves scored six points on the possession after Kevin Martin finished it with a 3-pointer for a 65-43 lead.
"That's kind of vintage KG, just tried to get himself going, himself into the right mind frame," Love said. "I just didn't really care."
The Wolves poured it on from there, with Ricky Rubio hitting a 3 and blowing past Paul Pierce for an easy layup and a 75-43 lead. Minnesota led by as many as 37 points, and overwhelmed Nets coach Jason Kidd pulled Garnett and most of the rest of his starters with about three minutes to play in the third.
"We wanted to finish it," said Corey Brewer, who had 15 points for Minnesota. "We were up and we wanted to step on them."
It had to be a difficult pill for the proud Garnett to swallow. Even six years after his departure, the strong feelings remain.
During a break in the action in the first quarter, the Wolves played a highlight reel and announced his accomplishments over the loud speaker. A thunderous standing ovation ensued, and Garnett got off the bench, tapped his heart and waved to the crowd in an extremely rare departure from ultra-intense demeanor during games.
Andray Blatche had 16 points and Joe Johnson 15 for the Nets, who turned it over 20 times.
"The big thing for this group, we have to do it together," Kidd said, "and we can talk about it, but the actions have to kick in at some point and we're not doing that on either end."
NOTES: Martin finished with 17 points. ... Wolves F Ronny Turiaf (fractured elbow) said before the game there is still no timetable for his return to action. ... In the Old Habits Die Hard Dept: Wolves in-arena announcer Rod Johnson hollered "Time out New Jersey!" in the first quarter. Johnson immediately caught himself and corrected it to Brooklyn. ... Tyshawn Taylor had 13 points for Brooklyn.