NBA: Timberwolves 102, Bobcats 96

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — Maybe Kevin Garnett’s slump really was caused by the NBA’s synthetic ball.

Garnett had 32 points and 14 rebounds in the NBA’s return to the old leather ball, and the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied to beat Charlotte 102-96 on Monday night.

Garnett was one of the most vocal critics of the NBA’s decision to go with the microfiber composite ball at the start of the season, and his numbers had dipped as well.

Garnett was 9-for-29 from the field in the previous two games with the synthetic ball. With Garnett and other stars complaining so much and with the players’ union filing an unfair labor charge against the league, the NBA relented, switching back to the old ball for games starting Monday.

Garnett took advantage, shooting 12-for-18 and scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter.

“There is a God,” Garnett said.

So is that really the reason Garnett broke out of a funk that saw him shoot 38 percent in the past four games?

“It looked like it,” guard Ricky Davis said. “Let’s just say, yeah.”

Davis added 25 points for Minnesota, and Mark Blount had 21. The Timberwolves trailed by 20 in the second quarter and by 12 early in the fourth.

Matt Carroll led the Bobcats with 23 points. Raymond Felton added 22 points and nine assists, and Adam Morrison had 18 points.

Garnett’s shot in the lane with 8:19 left finished a 12-0 run that gave Minnesota the lead. He scored nine more points down the stretch and grabbed an offensive rebound of a missed free throw that led to Davis’ basket that put Minnesota up 99-94.

After Carroll’s free throws pulled Charlotte within three, Garnett nailed a 14-footer with 16 seconds left to put it away.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Felton said. “It was a good game that went down to the wire. We had a chance to get one more possession and not have to foul, but KG hit a big shot.”

The Bobcats hit five of their first six 3-point attempts in building a double-digit lead early in the second quarter. Charlotte took a 20-point lead on Sean May’s back-to-back jumpers before the Timberwolves rallied.

Davis said part of the reason for the Timberwolves’ slow start was due to getting used to the leather ball, which was new and not broken in and worn.