The Celtics escaped with a 96-93 victory tonight over the scrappy T-Wolves.
Minnesota proved tonight that the Timberwolves of 2010-11 are not the post-KG trade Timberwolves anymore. Though they've won only nine games, Michael Beasley and Kevin Love provide some formidable star power that they have lacked in recent years.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 23 points, and Ray Allen contributed with 20 of his own. Glen Davis added 17 from the power forward position, filling in for the injured Kevin Garnett. Big Baby battled foul trouble throughout the contest.
Rajon Rondo scored six points and handed out 16 assists in his second game back off an ankle injury. Von Wafer surprised me (and most C's fans I'm sure) with 10 points and 6 boards in less than 16 minutes of action off the bench.
For the Timberwolves, Love scored a dozen points, but doubled that number with two dozen rebounds.
The 24 boards break a TD BankNorth record, previously held by Dikembe Mutombo. There were multiple instances in the game when he actually had more rebounds than the entire Celtics team. Beasley added 19 on 9-17 shooting from the field and played well in the closing minutes.
Minnesota took advantage over a slow Boston start, jumping out to a 25-17 lead after the 1st quarter. The T-Wolves continued to battle in the 2nd frame, leading by three at the half. Love notched a double-double late in the quarter and finished with 11 points and 15 boards at the break.
Boston was unable to take the lead in the 2nd half until late in the final frame. In fact, Minnesota extended the lead to 10 multiple times in the 3rd quarter. Pierce's 15 point frame was the only reason the C's were able to cut the deficit back to three going into the 4th.
Again, the Wolves opened up their lead--this time to eight on a Corey Brewer jumper with just under seven minutes left in regulation. A 9-2 run courtesy of an Allen three, followed by a Pierce three, and a second from Ray brought Boston back into within one with 2:57 to play.
Half a minute later, Rondo drove and dumped the ball down to Shaq, who laid it in to give Boston it's first lead since late in the 2nd quarter. Despite an impressive closing effort from Beasley (eight points in the last 3:20), he was unable to connect on a game-ending three-point attempt and the Celtics held on for a 96-93 victory.
With the win, the C's improve to 26-7, while Minnesota falls to 9-26. Boston returns to the hardcourt Wednesday night against the Spurs. Keep an eye out for yours truly, who will be decked out in a Rondo Oak Hill Jersey in the corner of the middle level section. Tipoff is at 7:30 PM ET.