The games against the Timberwolves may not be the best of games - but they sure don't lack drama. In a contest that should have been forgettable, there were plenty of things to remember tonight - most notably the ending, which exceeded the more anticipated beginning. Leon Powe put back Ray Allen's miss at the the buzzer as the C's walked away with an 88-86 victory. The final play started when Marko Jaric missed a three, and Craig Smith ill-advisedly decided to save the ball from going out of bounds. He threw the ball back in play, where Ray caught it. Recognizing he had numbers he raced down the court to beat the buzzer, was valiantly blocked (and maybe fouled) by Jaric, whereupon Leon grabbed the ball out of limbo and scooted it into the hoop as the horn sounded. In short, crazy.
Besides the ending, and perhaps a serious injury to Perk, the game will be remembered as KG's return to 'Sota, where he was classily introduced before the game. I was fearing an overwrought extravaganza honouring KG's memory, but the T-Wolves handled it as tactfully as possible; it seemed genuinely nice. Saying how badly we miss his presence after just six games I am not exactly sure in what state T-Wolves fans must be in.
And then, unfortunately, the game began. It was a slopfest from the outset, as we had one of those prodigious 18-16 first quarters which you immediately want to forget. Once again, I urge Glenn to oust Scal from the starting lineup, his complete offensive paucity (0 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists in 19 minutes) can't help in situations like the first quarter. It's like four on five on the offensive end. While Scal can have a role on this team for his defense (which was excellent in the third quarter) his offensive game is more than just a drag.
But honestly there's no need to pick on Scal tonight because the whole starting unit struggled offensively. Minnesota wasn't much better - Garnett's appearance didn't seem to effect either team positively. The T-Wolves are young and loose in the worst sense. They flounder all over the place, and it allows veteran teams to stick around when they have no right to. That was the case tonight. Ray and Pierce both had off games, but were bailed out by the stellar bench play. Eddie House came into the game firing, and stayed hot the whole night, going for 14 in 16 minutes. Posey was Posey, including an on-the-floor scoop and bounce pass to House that was nothing short of divine. And Powe...was Powe. I think we can say that now. Because ultimately it was Leon's night.
Leon was everywhere, as he has been since he started getting playing time on January 18. This evening he had 16 points including the last two, to go along with eight boards. Despite being only 6-8, Leon's complete knowledge of how to use his physicality has made him a staple for this team. He knows his body well enough, and is tough enough, to hold his own against players several inches taller than him. Offensively this is nice, but we all know that his true importance is on the defensive end, where he has done an admirable job from the outset. Factor that in with his 20ish PER (!) and you have a stunning example of a role player clicking at exactly the right time.
And Leon might become even more invaluable. Perk hurt his left shoulder in the third quarter - and that is not good. Perk dislocated the same shoulder last year, and never really seemed to get right afterwards. If this is serious, another center has to be brought in. As well as Leon has played, and as fine a short term solution as he is, the need for another big should be obvious. Hopefully Perk only has a strain, but it is very worrisome.
So for a crappy basketball game a hell of a lot happened tonight. Praise again be to Leon, who has exceeded everyone's expectations, and hopefully can continue to do so. It was a weird win, but we'll take it.