Sometimes a game is more than just a game. Sometimes a game is personal.
The Wolves 112-109 victory over the Denver Nuggest last night was just that. In all of professional sports, there is no team that I detest as much as the Nuggets. And since they happen to be the division rivals with the Timberwolves, that just makes every one of their four regular season match-up that much more important and intense. While the NBA’s new zero-tolerance policy went a long way towards making this particular match-up less violent than usual, last night’s game was one of the best between these two enemies. (The fact that the Wolves won probably has a lot to do with that, but it was still a good game regardless.)
Kevin Garnett is playing like a man possessed. [image2]
What really made this game so special were two things: First – Craig Smith, you are the man. Props to Jerry for pulling out his “When You Least Expect It” article officially making this site the first to hop on the Craig Smith bandwagon. If last evening’s 20 point performance was any indication, the empty spots will be filing up fast!
[ad2] Secondly, this was a game that the 2005-2006 Wolves would have caused the team to completely fold. As CW mentioned in his post below, the Wolves found themselves down six, seven, or eight points multiple times. And each time they would rally back, the Thugg… er Nuggets would pull away again. Until finally, late in the fourth quarter, this team took their defense up a notch and kept Denver from scoring at key times, all the while dishing out a steady dose of daggers to keep the lead at 3 or more. You can count the number of times you saw that kind of clutch fourth quarter play last season on one hand.
The big reasons were Mike James, and yes, Troy Hudson going all Sam Cassell on the Nuggets with their key shots in crunchtime. And of course the biggest reason is The Big Ticket. The first two games have featured big fourth quarter comeback by the Wolves, all spearheaded by the man who’s been universally criticized for disappearing late in the game. If you think that the past two seasons haven’t lit a fire under Garnett, you’re fooling yourself. Maybe it took a little time for him to get over the huge disappointments that followed the Timberwolves incredible Western Conference Finals run a few years back. But now KG has a chip on his shoulder the size of Minnesota and has been on a one-man-mission to prove all those doubters wrong.
Yeah, there’s still 80 games left in the season and a lot can happen in that time. But I think it’s safe to say that these are not the Minnesota Timberwolves that everyone was expecting to see last week. Time to start working on the playoff movie…