Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: A MINNESOTA FAILURE IN THREE PARTSAct One: The Wolves Seize the Day
The Wolves took control on the back of solid jump shooting and good defense. Kevin Love's 24 rebounds were the most anyone has ever snagged in TD Northbank Gardens, but it was solid defense on Minnesota's part that forced enough misses to allow for those. At least until the fourth quarter. The Wolves' bench outscored Boston's, which doesn't happen very often, even with Boston banged up. Martell Webster and Wesley Johnson were slinging it, and knocking them down, looking very much like a solid jump-shooting component. The Wolves played solid, the Wolves played strong, the Wolves ... forgot all about those things when the fourth quarter showed up.
Act Two: The Celtics Do As Celtics Do
You already know the tale, but I'll share it with you, regardless. Ray Allen got open, despite being the one guy on the club you don't ever want open, not if a meteor rips the top half of the arena off. Luke Ridnour turned in a terrible quarter that only got worse, and the Celtics' defense clamped down. The Wolves kept going to Beasley, who kept scoring, but then would let things like Pekovic jumpers happen. The wheels were spinning off pretty fast, but were still on until Paul Pierce hit a pull-up transition three. That made an eight point lead five. When that happens, the Celtics know there's blood in the water.
Act Three: A Comedy of Likely Errors
Rajon Rondo hit a jumper, prompting Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn to yell in mockery "Oh, Rondo can't shoot! Rondo can't score! Sorry!" in quite possibly the most obnoxious impersonation of a drunken buffoon, ever. In related news, on the possession following Rondo's push of the Celtics' lead to three, he clanged a completely wide open jumper. Heinsohn said nothing. Kevin Love grabbed the rebound (surprise!), and saw a Timberwolf jetting out ahead of the pack in transition. So there's Love, arguably the best outlet passer in the game, with a wide-open layup-maker waiting for him to drop the ball in the lap of. Kurt Rambis called timeout.
Rambis did nothing wrong. That's what you should do there. Advance the ball. Make sure you get a solid shot. Granted, those of us in our comfy chairs would probably say you have a better chance with Kevin Love throwing an outlet in traffic than having Kurt Rambis draw up a good game winning shot. But that's neither here nor there. It just speaks to the sad reality of how doomed the Wolves were in this game.
After the timeout, Rambis actually called a pretty great play. Drawing the attention on Beasley, Luke Ridnour slipped underneath the wall of coverage the Celtics had put up and had a wide open path to the bucket. Wide. Open. So of course Ridnour proceeded to have his oft layup blocked into the 9th row by Ray Allen (that's right, Ray Allen), but not before he traveled upon receiving the pass. It would have been painful, were it not so hilarious.
And that, as they say, is how the West was won. In the East. And not, like, the Western Conference. Just this game. That phrase doesn't really work here.
Much like the Timberwolves.
GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:LeBron James: 38 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists
Monta Ellis: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Hedo Turkoglu: 10 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists
THE Warriors SHOULD REALLY JUST STOP AT HALFTIMESee, if the Warriors could just convince the officials to stop the games at halftime, they'd be set. Days after a massive collapse against the Miami Heat, the Warriors were at it again, leading by 9 at half, then losing by a huge margin in the second. They were outscored 66-37 in the second half, as the Magic unloaded from the arc, hitting 12 of 21 threes in the 2nd. It's bizarre to see a team let off the gas that much, to collapse that poorly, in consecutive games. If you're Keith Smart, this is a nightmare, and something difficult to correct. But they need to, and fast.
FINAL THOUGHTS:Houston is unable to get any stops when they need to. They had a good lock on their game against the Nuggets, but just kept slipping on banana peels and letting Denver score at will. The feel of the game was Houston's, the shooting percentages were Denver's.
When Miami has LeBron James and Dwyane Wade going? It's as fearsome as we predicted. It's the Bobcats, but still.
As much as everyone's concerned about the Jazz, Al Jefferson is starting to get it. 16 points, 8 rebounds on 7-13 shooting, and every game he and Deron Williams figure out more about one another.