In Game 2, Kevin Garnett hit 15 of 21 shots, including a three-pointer to start an 8-0 run at the start of the second half.
He finished with 35 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot in 43 minutes. The Wolves scored only four baskets in the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter. Garnett had all of them to prevent the Lakers from thinking they might be able to mount a comeback.
He made his matchup with Mark Madsen as much as a blowout as Kobe Bryant had made his with Wally Szczerbiak in Game 1. For good measure, Garnett even guarded Bryant for a four-minute stretch in Game 2.
Flip Saunders was asked to open the Garnett scrapbook and pick a page worthy of this marvelous performance.
"He had some unreal games against Dallas last year," Saunders said. "But other than the All-Star game, this probably was [his best game]. With the caliber of the game, and the pressure of playing against two of the best players in the league, he was phenomenal. This is what I've been saying or 82 games -- that he is the MVP."
Garnett should be, but the votes are already submitted, if not yet reported, and the betting money continues to be on Spur center Tim Duncan. Why might Duncan win it over Garnett? It will have little to do with the regular reason, and everything to do with the kind of virtuoso performance Garnett revealed on Tuesday night.
In theory, a regular-season award is supposed to be based on just that -- the 82-game season and nothing more. In reality, other things creep in. This is especially true when the race is so tight that voters are looking for ways to make a very tough judgment call.
A team's record and the supporting cast are only two of the things considered. Subconsciously, a third can creep in and work in favor of one player and against another.
A voter might give a player the benefit of the doubt for the collective weight of his work in the regular season if it has led to something in past playoffs.
It's not so much that a player who has done well in the playoffs automatically gets the nod, as much as the player who does not have a strong postseason body of work might be penalized for it.
In addition to also playing superbly again this season, Duncan has been a big-time producer in the playoffs, even leading his team to an NBA title. Time and again, he has taken over games in April and May.
As remarkably as Garnett played this season, there still was not a lot to match it in the postseason. He had games with gaudy numbers, but too many in which he shrunk in the fourth quarter, and too few when he set the kind of tone that suggested, "My team will not lose tonight."
That was exactly the tenor he struck in Game 2 against the Lakers, and that's the kind of thing that sticks with MVP voters even a year later.
Dan Barreiro is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and can be reached at email@example.com.
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*--* Best-of-seven series (* if necessary) Game 1 LAKERS 117, at MINNESOTA 98 Game 2 at MINNESOTA 119, LAKERS 91 Series tied, 1-1 Game 3 at Lakers Tonight 8 p.m. TNT, FSN Game 4 at Lakers Sunday Noon Ch. 7 Game 5 at Minnesota Tuesday TBA Ch. 9 Game 6 at Lakers May 1* TBA TNT, FSN Game 7 at Minnesota May 3* TBA TNT or ESPN; Ch. 9