Garnett gets the MVP

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2003

ATLANTA -- Kevin Garnett took over when the NBA All-Star game went into double overtime for the first time ever.

The long-armed and talented Minnesota Timberwolves star was voted the game's Most Valuable Player with a game-high 37 points, including nine in the second overtime to spark the West's 155-145 victory over the East on Sunday night.

Garnett hit three straight jumpers and scored the first seven points of the second extra period before sealing the victory with a dunk.

Playing in his sixth All-Star game, the 26-year-old Garnett shot 17-of-24 from the field with an array of dunks and jumpers. He also had nine rebounds, five steals and three assists on a night when the stars came out to honor Michael Jordan.

''I went into this knowing that this was Michael's last All-Star game and I know I was going to be playing against him,'' Garnett said.

''It was my first time with Yao Ming, so I had a bunch of things going through my mind.''

Garnett -- like Ming, the 7-foot-6 rookie from China -- is a member of the NBA's new generation, one of the players Jordan said will keep the league at a high level after he retires.

''I think everybody enjoyed the game,'' Garnett said. ''It was just a great game on the basis of it being Michael and an emotional game.''

Asked if he could help carry the NBA in Jordan's absence, Garnett said it would have to be shared.

''I don't think the responsibility falls on one single individual. We're in great shape with guys like Tim Duncan and Stephon (Marbury),'' Garnett said.

''The league is full of guys that can carry it, but I think it's going to be a group effort, and I think it's a challenge that we all look up to.''

The West's Kobe Bryant had nine points in the first overtime but missed the chance to sew up the victory when he made just two of three free throws with a second left after he was fouled by Jermaine O'Neal.

Then, in the second extra period, the West went inside to the 6-foot-11 Garnett, who was able to put the game away by scoring over the 6-foot-6 Vince Carter.

''The second overtime was really, really intense,'' Garnett said. ''Guys got really aggressive. We knew it was going to be either me or Tim who had the mismatch and at the time, I had Vince Carter on me and I just told (Duncan), 'Let's take advantage of it.' So we did.''

Garnett's style during his stellar career has been to take what the defense gives him and not force shots. He did that again Sunday night with the best players in the world on the same floor.

''I didn't want to be in a position where I was taking too many shots,'' Garnett said. ''I never want to be perceived as a ball hog. It was a situation where I was either at the basket for a dunk or had a jumper.''

Garnett's 37 points were the most in an All-Star game since Jordan scored 40 at Chicago in 1988.

''I was part of something special. It was history,'' Garnett said.

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