MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Los Angeles Clippers' Darius Miles a look that was priceless.
As if saying, "Your future is my past," Garnett knocked down an 18-foot jump shot over Miles the first time the two players faced each other Saturday night in the Timberwolves' 85-73 victory before 16,143 at the Target Center.
When Miles got a chance to return the favor a few minutes later, Garnett backed off and gave him an open 18-footer. Unfortunately for Miles, he shot the ball nearly a foot long and that's when Garnett glanced at him, probably remembering what it was like when he was a 19-year-old rookie making the jump to the NBA straight out of high school.
"When you're that age, every time you step on the floor is a learning process," Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders said of Miles, who at 19 is the league's youngest player. "There's no question that he has a lot of potential and has a chance to be a very good player in this league.
"But the reason why K.G. is how he is now is because he's had a very good work ethic and a drive to want to be the best. He also had a little more perimeter ball skills where he can handle the ball with both hands when he came into the league."
The Clippers' plan on Saturday was to deny Garnett inside and see if he could beat them with jump shots. He did just that, with many of his game-high 23 points coming from outside. He also had nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Miles, who played most of his 24 minutes matched against Garnett, got better as the game went on and finished with five points and seven rebounds.
"He's a competitor like I'm a competitor," said Miles, who made sure he exchanged handshakes with Garnett right after the game ended. "I tried to go at him like he went at me. But I think I played bad."
When Garnett, who was the first player in more than 20 years to be drafted directly out of high school, entered the league as the fifth overall pick of the 1995 draft, the Timberwolves were a bad team.
The Timberwolves, who debuted in 1989, had never experienced a winning season before Garnett arrived and in his first season the Timberwolves were 26-56. Garnett had his moments, averaging 10.4 points and earning second-team all-rookie honors, but he struggled making the adjustment to the NBA.
Now in his sixth season, Garnett is one of the league's most dominant players and has helped turn the Timberwolves into perennial playoff contenders.
The Clippers can only hope that Miles is a part of any turnaround for a team that dropped to 6-16 overall and is 2-9 on the road.
Against the Timberwolves, it was easy to point out the Clippers' main problem: They can't shoot. They made only 36.4 percent of their shots in scoring a season-low 73 points. With Lamar Odom having an off game after playing only six minutes Friday night in a loss at Charlotte because of food poisoning, Coach Alvin Gentry was hurting for anyone to step up offensively.
"Minnesota had a lot to do with (the Clippers' poor shooting)," Gentry said. "They took us out of a lot of things we wanted to do. We really had no firepower. We couldn't find any rhythm, and they were able to take Odom out of the game."
Odom had nine points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers, who trailed by 21 points early in the second half, rallied behind Corey Maggette (11 points and seven rebounds), Keyon Dooling (seven points and seven assists), Eric Piatkowski (eight points in the quarter) and Miles.
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