Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds in his third game back in Minnesota since he was traded in 2007, helping the Boston Celtics remain undefeated with a 92-90 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Rajon Rondo scored 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter for the Celtics (6-0), who join the Denver Nuggets as the only two teams in the league without a loss.
Garnett's former team gave his current one all it could handle. The Wolves had a chance to tie in the final 10 seconds of the game. But Garnett forced a jump ball with Corey Brewer on an amazing defensive play to stay undefeated in five games against the Timberwolves.
Oleksiy Pecherov scored a career-high 24 points and Al Jefferson added 18 points for the Timberwolves, who led throughout the first three quarters before Eddie House hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie it going into the final period.
Garnett then made two nice passes to create easy layups to give the Celtics a 91-88 lead with 3 minutes to go.
The young Timberwolves had several chances down the stretch to tie or take the lead, but their inexperience came through with poor shot selection and rushed attempts.
Garnett spent his first 12 seasons with the Timberwolves, growing up from a skinny kid that jumped straight to the pros from high school into a dominant force on both ends of the floor. He owns nearly every franchise career record worth having, but the Timberwolves decided to part ways with the only star they have ever had.
In just his third game back in the arena that he essentially built, it would be hard to imagine Garnett even recognized the franchise that he put on the map.
Every player from his final season in Minnesota is gone and so is the architect of the Garnett years _ Kevin McHale. Owner Glen Taylor fired McHale this offseason, hiring David Kahn as president of basketball operations and Kurt Rambis as head caoch.
The novelty of Garnett playing for another team in Target Center may have worn off, but it's clear he is still missed by basketball fans in Minnesota. A near sellout crowd came out to see him, with thousands wearing Celtic green or a Garnett jersey _ both the Boston and Minnesota varieties _ to cheer their departed star.
Garnett received a standing ovation during introductions and was cheered throughout the game, but these young Timberwolves also took it as an opportunity to introduce themselves to a fan base that has turned indifferent in the years since KG left.
The Wolves led by eight at halftime and three with 6:44 to play, but couldn't hang on against the battle-tested Celtics.
NOTES: Wolves PG Jonny Flynn, a Syracuse alum, said he's been inundated with jabs since the Orange lost to Division-II Le Moyne. "I'm getting phone calls, text messages, they won't stop!" Flynn said sheepishly. ... Celtics F Rasheed Wallace was in midseason form, picking up a technical foul from the bench for jawing with officials after being whistled for a foul on Pecherov.