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With Wolves, guarded optimism

Team opens new season tonight against Kings

Compiled from wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS — There’s nowhere for the Minnesota Timberwolves to go but up, right?

Fans have to hope so. The Wolves finished last year with a disappointing 33-49 record, obviously missing the playoffs.

The 2006-2007 season opens tonight with the Wolves hosting the Sacramento Kings at Target Center.

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The Wolves rely on Kevin Garnett as much as ever, but the success this season rests with a pair of rookies — Randy Foye from Villanova and Craig Smith from Boston College — along with key free-agent signee Mike James from Toronto.

"No question," coach Dwane Casey said. "Yes, we are relying on them (Foye and Smith). Probably earlier with Randy more than Craig, but both young men are going to have learn how to play."

James averaged 20.3 points with Toronto last year and he’ll start at guard alongside Ricky Davis, who averaged 19.4 points. Davis was acquired midway in the season by the Wolves from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Wally Sczcerbiak among others.

Trenton Hassell will start alongside Garnett in the frontcourt while Mark Blount, another ex-Celtic, is the starter at center.

The Wolves desperately want to get a victory in their pockets before heading on the road for their next four games, squeezed into five nights, at Denver, Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles (Lakers).

Minnesota has won 11 consecutive home openers, after a 1-5 start in the franchise’s lean years. Overall, the Wolves are 10-7 on opening night.

However, the visiting team has won eight of the Wolves’ past 11 meetings with the Kings.

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