Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Celtics-Magic: KG returns. A recap.

The Celtics went ahead by 10 early on, but the lead evaporated and much of the game was tight. The Celtics really came alive in the last 3 minutes of the 4th quarter. Ray Allen connected on two threes but the Magic fought back. With the score tied and a minute left on the clock, Paul Pierce chose the perfect time to pull out some vintage material. He got Jason Richardson off the floor, drew contact, and buried an elbow jumper. After making the free throw and completing the three point play, the Celtics lead 107-104, with 38 seconds left on the clock.

The real story of the game was KG's return to action, and with 38 seconds left in regulation, he stuck the dagger in to the chest of the Magic:

With Orlando seeking a tying basket, down three with less than 30 seconds to play, Ryan Anderson came down with an offensive rebound of a Hedo Turkoglu miss. Jameer Nelson ended up with the ball and, after catching Boston in a switch off the pick-and-roll, was looking to feed it back to the top of the key where Jason Richardson, one of Orlando's top 3-point threats, would have had a wide-open look.

If not for Garnett.

Despite basically being pinned behind Orlando's point guard, Garnett managed to reach out his long arms and bat down the pass as it left Nelson's hands. He then tracked down the loose ball and fed it ahead to the Celtics' Ray Allen, who drew the foul and made the free throws that sealed the game (Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston).

His return was even more glorious than I dared hope for. One would think that after leaving the court in excruciating pain and missing 9 consecutive games, that he would come back rusty and hesitant. Oh but it just wasn't so (in my bliss, I'm skating over some MINIMAL rusty-ness, and filing it away under causalities of the game. There was a couple of turnovers, and all but 2 of his rebounds came in the first quarter). The bottom line is that he played 31 minutes and he looked completely fabulous. His performance was for more meaningful than his numbers (he shot 7 for 13 and scored 19 points, plus pulled down 8 rebounds and had 2 steals). He is the king of the intangible and he was omnipresent on the court last night. I wouldn't be surprised if Dwight Howard had a nightmare about KG last night, the way that KG was in his head all game long. He's always talking- but it's not always trash. Much of his talk is him communicating with his teammates, calling out sets and making sure people are where they need to be. Through communicating, he anchored the Celtics defense and revamped their intensity on both ends of the floor, in ways that were lacking these past nine games. He made the big plays when they needed to be made.

He just makes everyone else better... And he makes it look so easy. Shout out to Ray Allen for scoring 13 of his 26 points in the 4th quarter, and to Paul Pierce for scoring his first points of the 4th quarter with 38.7 seconds remaining... And lastly, to Jason Richardson, for his lackluster defense on Paul.

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