The Three Pointer: The Best Quarter Not Seen
By Stephen Litel
Special to City Pages
1. The return of Sam I Am
Last night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers marked the return of former Timberwolf and friend of Kevin Garnett Sam Cassell. With the current state of the Timberwolves, one cannot help but look at Cassell and wonder "what if." What would have happened if Cassell had not been injured in the Western Conference Finals? What would have happened if Cassell's contract was longer than it had been while in Minnesota, so none of the talk of contract extensions would have had to taken place? Unfortunately, the answers to those questions will never be known and we must move on.
Prior to Saturday night's game, Cassell was raving about Garnett yet had to take a shot at the Timberwolves organization one last time. "He (Garnett) is definitely one of the top five power forwards to play the game of basketball. No doubt about it. I've played with two Hall of Famers in career in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. If they played 45 minutes the night before and we had practice the next day, they weren't going to play too much in practice. Kevin's a guy who will never take a night or practice off and in today's basketball that is unbelievable."
Cassell seemed unable to resist when he continued with "Hopefully, Kevin will be remembered as a player who won a championship, but, you know, here it's difficult. He's never had the personnel or guys with him to win a championship except for when we won the division and went to the Western Conference Finals."
Once the game started, Cassell seemed determined to torch his old team. By halftime he had 20 points and ended the game with 31 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Through three quarters, it seemed as if Sam I Am had led his team to a sure-fire victory until Randy Foye had the breakout quarter of his short NBA career.
2. Randy Foye's amazing fourth quarter
Minnesota fans who were not in attendance at the Target Center missed quite a show from rookie Randy Foye as this game was not televised. The validation of acquiring the rights to Foye on Draft night was made in spectacular fashion in the fourth quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter, Foye had only played 5 ½ minutes, scoring a single point. Foye had approached Coach Casey and asked "Give me the pick and roll" as he thought he saw something there in which he could exploit. Casey took the gamble on his young rookie and it paid off.
After Justin Reed stood in and took a charge from the Clippers' Corey Maggette which led to a Foye three point shot, the rookie then scored another two point basket and stole the ball, leading to a free throw for Reed. After this stretch, Foye grew up before our eyes and took over the game. With Cassell hitting a three pointer to stretch Los Angeles' lead to 94-88, Foye calmly brought the ball up the court and drilled a three pointer of his own, going toe to toe with Cassell, which brought the Target Center crowd to a deafening level of sound.
From that point on, the Timberwolves were energized and were able to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat, to use an over-used statement. Foye in the fourth quarter alone scored 14 points, adding two assists to lead Minnesota to 35 fourth quarter points and the eventual victory.
Credit this victory to Randy Foye's energy in the fourth quarter and to Coach Casey for allowing the rookie the opportunity to show what he is capable of accomplishing when given the chance.
3. Being 0.500 now is great, but...
After fighting back to the 0.500 mark after what could have been a devastating shot by Peja Stojakovic to drop Minnesota to 3-6, the Wolves will now have the most challenging week of their still young season.
Minnesota will now take their 6-6 record to Texas to play a back to back against the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets. Dallas, after losing in the NBA Finals last season, will head into their matchup with the Wolves with an 8-4 record, highlighted by a great win against division rival San Antonio in the Spurs' building. Houston will also enter their game with Minnesota holding an 8-4 record. Yao Ming is having the best season of his career with 26.3 ppg and 10.6 rpg, respectively and should be a tough matchup for Minnesota.
Returning home on Friday, the Wolves will host their own division rival in the Denver Nuggets. Minnesota has already won a game against the Nuggets in Denver this season, so Carmelo Anthony and company should be looking for some payback.
After this three game stretch of games against quality opponents, we should know more about this team and how good they really are.