Naturally, the biggest basket on Kevin Garnett's biggest night in the NBA had the highest degree of difficulty.
Against a double team with 24 seconds left and with Marcus Camby right in his face, Garnett spun in the paint, soared so high he seemed to hang in the air several seconds and then dropped the ball softly into the basket.
Garnett said he wanted to see the shot on highlight shows not out of vanity but because he honestly couldn't remember it..
The stunning, spinning basket was certainly etched in Camby's memory.
"He just held on it for a long time and released it coming down and it went in," Camby said, still shaking his head in disbelief 20 minutes later. "It was a tough shot, a good shot. I almost threw my arm out. I had it up there."
Garnett, who set his previous career high on Friday night with 34 points against Sacramento, then sealed Minnesota's 93-90 victory over the New York Knicks by swatting away Camby's shot in the paint with five seconds left before Latrell Sprewell missed a desperation 3-pointer.
Garnett's remarkable clutch play brought to mind one Michael Jordan.
"I always get back to the Jordan thing. I don't think he ever wanted it more than everybody else. I just think he was better than most," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "That guy's a terrific player. That last shot he made, we doubled, he brought the ball on a spin over the double and made a hell of a shot."
Aside from rookie Wally Szczerbiak (23 points), the Wolves, who began their season with a two-game series aainst Sacramento at Japan, were lethargic from the start before Garnett turned it on in the final quarter.
"I thought Wally was great tonight, when we were struggling he kept us in the game," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said.
But it was Garnett who brought the Wolves out of their funk and fired up the Target Center crowd, which reached a crescendo on his stunning, spinning shot.
Garnett got three defenders in foul trouble without drawing a single whistle himself all night.
"Once he got going pretty good, he got a couple of our key guys out of the game in Kurt Thomas and Larry Johnson," Sprewell said. "So, that just takes away from what we like to do offensively and obviously defensively with Larry's size and rebounding ability."
Behind Allan Houston, who scored 29, and Sprewell, who had 20, the Knicks built a 70-56 lead with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Garnett kept motioning for the crowd to get into it, but they had little reason to cheer until he put on a late show.
"He's the reason they were able to come back and win," Sprewell said. "He had some huge shots."
After Charlie Ward's basket with 4:19 left broke an 82-82 tie, Garnett's 3-pointer gave the Wolves their first lead since 6-5.
But the Knicks turned to Houston, who hit a 3 and one of two foul shots to pull New York to 89-88 with just over a minute left.
Garnett's spinning jumper with 24 seconds remaining made it 91-88. Camby's follow-up basket with 10 seconds left made it 91-90, and he fouled Malik Sealy with 8.8 seconds left. Sealy sank both shots for the final margin.
Before Garnett's heroics, it appeared this was Houston's night. He scored 16 points in the first quarter alone.
"You know the old game of `swish,' where you get more points for a swish basket? Good thing we weren't playing that tonight," Saunders said. "I don't think he hit the rim all night."
And Garnett hit nothing but net on his final basket.
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