Kevin Garnett doesn't want to be asked any more questions about his surgically repaired right knee, but he did manage to provide some further answers last night for any remaining pundits.
Garnett posted a season-high 26 points against Phoenix on 13-20 shooting, but it wasn't enough as the Celtics fell 110-103. Still, in weighing the positives and the negatives, a big night from Garnett certainly holds some significant weight. I think the questions and uncertainties with Garnett will quietly remain for some time, but nights like last night will eventually bridge the gap so we can all move forward for good.
Because against Phoenix, he brought out the majority of the tools in his toolbox against the defense of Amare Stoudemire and Channing Frye. He established the jump shot early on, but much to the approval of this writer, he worked his way inside as the night went on. It wasn't long before Garnett was dipping, ducking and drop stepping his way through the paint, putting in some hanging hook shots and up and unders. He also threw down a steady collection of tip-in alley-oops that came from a variety of distributors.
Last night was also the first night where I truly saw KG's energy back on full display. Granted, in 30-point blow outs it isn't always needed. But we saw his raw emotion come out on some of the calls that didn't go his way, he was up in the face of smaller defenders when he switched on to them, and most importantly, he was back conducting the crowd in the midst of a wannabe Celtics comeback with 5:38 remaining in the fourth. Clearly Garnett was in a good groove last night and that resonated to the box score, but the emotion that came with the numbers was just as important.
The only thing I can really harp on - and this isn't Garnett's fault directly - was that the Celtics failed to keep working Garnett down on the block late in the fourth quarter. I felt that after Ray Allen buried a three with 5:24 remaining, which made it 96-92 Phoenix, we kept looking for the home run shot that would ignite the crowd and demoralize the Suns. Unfortunately, that just wasn't in the cards in this one, as the Celtics finished the night a mere 4-18 from three-point nation.
Garnett's only scored two buckets late in the fourth: One came on a tip-in off of a Rasheed Wallace missed three-pointer with 2:57 left and the other was a smooth up and under with 2:29 remaining. I can't necessarily fault the Celtics for shooting those threes, because they have been dropping this season, but since the Garnett formula was working, we probably should have tried to utilize his offensive well until it was all but dried up.
But either way, loss and all, Garnett appeared to take a nice personal step last night. I'm curious to see what he'll follow it up with tonight against the likes of Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez.