Originally created 05/02/00

Fire and ice: Garnett and Brandon

MINNEAPOLIS -- One pounds his chest, whacks himself in the head and implores the crowd to go wild.

The other is easygoing with a baritone voice, always looking as if nothing in the world could bring his mellow blood to a boil.

The fiery Kevin Garnett and the icy Terrell Brandon just might be two of the most contrasting characters in the NBA.

Brandon's style is appreciated by his coaches and teammates on the Minnesota Timberwolves. But it's always been the No. 1 knock on the point guard because some see his demeanor as a sign of aloofness or apathy and liken his mild manner to meekness.

"I'm burning inside," insisted Brandon, who kept the Wolves alive in the playoffs with a great game against Portland on Sunday. "Everyone shows enthusiasm differently. I'm very intense.

"I hope you understand I have a passion for this game and it burns inside as much as anyone else."

In fact, coach Flip Saunders sees Brandon's tranquil temperament as the perfect complement to Garnett's demonstrative style.

"I have this analogy: I've always said the reason the United States is such a strong country is because we're a melting pot," Saunders said. "We have a lot of different personalities and I think the same thing with a team, you have a melting pot. All the players can't have the same temperament."

Saunders said the differences "makes them both better and stronger."

Malik Sealy said it's good to get both ends of the spectrum on the court.

"Those are our two leaders and they definitely give you the best of both worlds," he said.

Trail Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said team chemistry is often dependent on such volatile mixes, as evidenced by his own leaders, Scottie Pippen and Rasheed Wallace.

The passionate play is often a product of youth and the more reserved behaviors are the domain of veterans. To win, you need both that experience and that energy.

"It is important to have that mix," Dunleavy said. "No question."

Brandon was just three rebounds shy of joining Garnett with a triple-double Sunday and he held the Trail Blazers' best two point guards to 2-for-13 shooting in Minnesota's 94-87 victory that cut Portland's series lead to 2-1.

It was the kind of performance the Wolves figured they'd get from Stephon Marbury before he forced last year's three-way trade that sent him to New Jersey and brought Brandon to the Twin Cities.

After signing a six-year, $59 million extension last summer, Brandon became an easy target for criticism when the Wolves stumbled to a 7-13 start this year.

Vice president Kevin McHale defended Brandon, saying he was the least of his troubles.

And Saunders said the Wolves, who have never advanced past the first round of the playoffs, need Brandon's savvy as much as Garnett's emotion.

"Terrell has more of a comforting effect, a soothing effect on the team when he's out on the floor," Saunders said. "He never gets too ruffled when things are going bad and he never gets too high when things are going good.

"He pretty much keeps that level head."


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