Al Jefferson was big part of the Timberwolves early success as he scored ten of his team-high 18-points in the first quarter. Ryan Gomes added 16-points, while Kevin Love had 13-rebounds to go with 13-points. Still through the Wizards early difficulty, Blatche offered a glimpse of what was to come with 13 points on six of nine shooting in the opening 12-minutes. "Dray was a lot different. He was a more aggressive player and a more intense, consistent player," Saunders noted "Sometimes when you bring people in, they take the guys that you have and bring them along right with them."
"I can't remember the last time I played 32 minutes and got 22 shots so it was a lot different for me but I stepped up to the job and I took care of my business and I had a lot of great guys around me chipping in," Blatche said. "I'm just knocking down the open shots when it's available and trying to be aggressive on the block...It was a good feeling. All my moves I have been practicing were working for me so I kept going to them and taking advantage."
A night after letting the likes of Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox, Jason Maxiell, and Jonas Jerebko go off for 30-38 inside of 10 feet (yes, this really happened), the Wolves allowed the Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood-less Wizards to go for 22-37 from within 10 feet. That's the Wolves' defense allowing 79% and 59% from up-close in the last two games. That's Al Jefferson looking as bad as we've ever seen him on defense. He came back from the All Star break with a bum knee. Here's hoping that the knee isn't serious and that he gets back to showing some improvement on defense because these last two games can be laid at the feet of awful interior defense more than anything else...and we're looking at you Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hollins. That being said, and knee or no knee, there were several points during last night's game where Jefferson absolutely did not look like he was trying. My best guess is that this is what contributed to his early yank in his final 4th quarter stint. It was ugly effort...on both ends of the court. Not the type of stuff you ever want to see from your "best" player.
The crowd, who acted as if they’d witnessed a funeral in the first quarter, gradually warmed up throughout the game, and by the end, they were on their feet and cheering as if Arenas, Jamison, Butler and Haywood had walked back through that door. After the game, everyone seemed to energized by the transformation. "I’m just happy that I get a chance to make the most of this opportunity and prove that I should be starting," the low-key McGee said after the game in front of his locker.