Timberwolves video: Kevin Garnett congratulates Ryan Saunders for first win as head coach
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Video: Kevin Garnett congratulates Ryan Saunders for first win as Timberwolves head coach

Timberwolves, Ryan Saunders, Kevin Garnett

As a sign of his support, former Minnesotta Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Garnett sent out a personalized video message to Ryan Saunders after Tuesday night’s 119-117 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Saunders’ first win as a head coach, and Garnett wanted to honor the moment:

“I wanted to shoutout my dog, Ryan Saunders,” Garnett says in his video for Saunders. “I wanted to tell him congratulations on his first win. I know his father would be proud. I know he’s looking down, blessing him.”

Ryan, 32, is the son of Flip Saunders, a legendary coach who passed away in 2015 at the age of 60 after a battle with cancer (Hodgkin lymphoma). Flip was one of the greatest minds the NBA has ever known and was beloved in Minnesota. The Cleveland native served stints with the Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, racking up more than 1,000 victories over the course of his 35-year coaching career:

“The NBA family is mourning today over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Flip Saunders,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement to ESPN after Flip’s passing. “… Flip’s untimely passing has left a gaping hole in the fabric of our league. Flip was a beloved figure around the NBA, nowhere more so than in Minnesota, demonstrating a genuine and consistent passion for his players, his team and the game. On behalf of the NBA, we offer our most sincere condolences to Flip’s wife, Debbie, their four children and the entire Minnesota Timberwolves organization.”

Ryan’s first win in the NBA didn’t come easy. In fact, it was a down-to-the wire finish against the Thunder, who are one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves in scoring on Tuesday night, scoring 40 points and 10 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns posted 20 points and Dario Saric added 15. As you might expect, Saunders deflected the credit to his players following the game:

“It’s unbelievable how they stayed connected throughout the whole game,” Ryan told ESPN. “Down the stretch, there were so many times where we could have disbanded and then the crowd could have got into us. I can’t say enough about that team.”

Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson, who tallied five points and five rebounds in the win, says the Timberwolves fed off Saunders’ energy:

“He fed off our energy, and we fed off his energy,” Gibson said. “We were just trying to get a win for him.”

Minnesota’s next shot at claiming a victory comes on Friday night, when they’ll welcome the Dallas Mavericks to town. Tip-off inside the Target Center is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.