Kevin Garnett is back in Minnesota and it feels so right.
It was almost as if the entire state was there to welcome him home when he made his return to the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Minnesota played a chill-inducing tribute video before announcing his name in the starting lineup, something received with deafening standing ovation. The crowd wasn't gun-shy, either, taking every opportunity to stand up and cheer for him -- a big play, a substitution, even the end of a quarter. It was fitting for the future Hall of Famer who spent the first 12 years of his career with the Timberwolves.
This night was all about him. The 13-win Timberwolves even took home the win, overcoming a sluggish start to beat the Wizards 97-77.
Garnett only played 19 minutes, but of course his presence was felt in the building the entire night by fans, players and even observers. He finished with five points and eight rebounds. It could have been 40 and 20 and it still may have fallen short of the impact the energy of him being back bought to everyone in the arena.
The Timberwolves' season is lost, but Garnett's return gives the fans something to cheer for and the players somebody to try and impress in the season's final two months. Sometimes, basketball really does hold sentimental value, and Garnett's trade and return to the Timberwolves this season is special.
Fittingly, his return ended the only way it could: with fans chanting "KG" in the final minutes of a Minnesota win. Garnett is back where he belongs.
3 other things we learned
Houston earns an impressive nationally televised win against the Clippers. James Harden has the best qualifications for MVP this season, but Houston's most important run in the fourth quarter actually came while Harden sat on the bench. The Rockets started the quarter down 85-84, but the bench unit rattle ripped off a 15-1 run, including 10 from Corey Brewer. The Clippers didn't go away until the closing seconds, but that run was the decisive moment of the game. Getting it with Harden on the bench is even nicer, since usually Houston puts nearly everything on his shoulders.
Short-handed Dallas does well but falls to Atlanta. Wednesday was an all-around weird day for the Mavericks. After a verbal altercation with coach Rick Carlisle the night before, Rajon Rondo was suspended for a game that nearly didn't happen due to winter storm warnings in Atlanta. The weather held up, but the Mavericks -- already missing Chandler Parsons with an ankle injury and now Rondo -- rested Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire. With only 11 active players, the Mavericks overcame several clock and rain delays to lead 53-47 at halftime. Dallas couldn't duplicate the performance in the final 24 minutes and finally gave in to the Eastern Conference's best team. It's safe to say the Mavericks' upcoming two day break is desperately needed.
San Antonio can muster only one good quarter. The second frame, a 34-point effort that also held Portland to 19, hummed along like the Spurs Machine of 2014 playoffs fame. The ball whipped around the perimeter, with players darting in and out of the lane while making Portland look silly. But unfortunately for San Antonio, the other three quarters looked nowhere near those lofty standards, and the Spurs lost 111-95 to Portland. San Antonio has now lost four straight.
Play of the Night
Corey Brewer, a good defender, did not look like a good defender on this play. Chris Paul created what had to be at least a mile of separation between the two and then hit the jump shot.
You might argue Paul assisted Brewer's flying into the stands by subtly nudging him with his shoulder, and I'm inclined to believe you might be right. However, that's also an impressive skill all in itself, because if he does, you can barely tell on this play.
8 fun things
Those are ladies sitting courtside, not your teammates, Evan Fournier.
Aaron Gordon's shoe just kind of came off his foot mid play.
Ah, the most touching moment of KG's return: his reunion with Jiggly Boy.
Wanna watch Alex Len get blocked by someone eight inches shorter than him?
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow that hurts.