MINNEAPOLIS – Dwane Casey’s first head coaching victory came at the expense of an old friend.

Kevin Garnett had 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Richie Frahm hit his first five 3-pointers on Wednesday night to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 90-86 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and new coach Nate McMillan, who either coached with or played for Casey in Seattle for the past 11 years.

Darius Miles had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Zach Randolph added 18 and 13 boards, but the Blazers couldn’t finish off a fourth-quarter comeback in McMillan’s first game after coming over from Seattle in the offseason.

The new-look Timberwolves looked sloppy in the first and fourth quarters, but shot well enough in the second and third to pull out the victory. Frahm finished with 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 16.

It certainly wasn’t easy.

Portland rookie Jarrett Jack scored seven points during an 11-0 run in the fourth, and Miles was dominant down the stretch. He had two straight steals and fast-break baskets, then blocked a shot and went coast-to-coast for the layup to cut Minnesota’s lead to 82-81 with just over 1 minute to play.

But Garnett came right back with a 22-footer just inside the 3-point arc and a jump hook over Joel Przybilla in the lane.

Eddie Griffin blocked a shot by Randolph on the other end and the Wolves finished the game off at the free throw line for the 11th straight season-opening win.

Casey spent 14 seasons as an assistant in Seattle, coaching McMillan as a player for four seasons, then serving as an assistant with McMillan for two years under Paul Westphal and finishing with five years as McMillan’s top assistant the past five years.

Both McMillan and Casey admitted to having butterflies before the game, but it was the Wolves who looked more after the opening tip.

After shooting an NBA-worst 40 percent from the field in the preseason, the Blazers shot 50 percent in the first quarter to take a 21-14 lead.

Casey went to Frahm in the second quarter looking for a spark, and the third-year player delivered.

He hit all four of his 3-point attempts to help the Wolves dig out of an 11-point hole.

It was a welcome sight for the Timberwolves, who have been concerned about replacing Fred Hoiberg. The NBA’s leading 3-point shooter last season, who will most likely be out for the season while recovering from offseason heart surgery.

After shooting just 33 percent in the first quarter, the Timberwolves hit 70 percent of their shots in the second period to take a 48-45 lead at halftime.

Notes: Casey said rookies Bracey Wright and Dwayne Jones would likely be allocated to the NBDL sometime next week. … Inactive for the opener – Wolves: Ronald Dupree, Wright, Jones; Blazers: Ha Sueng Jin, Viktor Khryapa, Sergei Monia. … Przybilla, a Minnesota native, had six points and six rebounds.

AP-ES-11-02-05 2242EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.