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POWE! Right in the Kisser.

by Rob Centore

It's Time . . . It's Time . . . It's LEON Time! With just under 30 games to go on the season, it looks again as if the Celtics garbage man has had a fire lit under him.

It was around this time last year that Leon Powe became LEON POWE after two months of riding the pine at the end of Doc's bench. For some it was out of nowhere, but for Leon it was just a moment waiting to happen. Starting in January of last year, Powe became the catalyst for the bench with his high energy in the low post or uncanny ability to take a charge in the crucial moment. Tommy Heinsohn hadn't been this excited about a player since Waltah left town for a life in the Jazz club.

Entering this season it almost seemed earlier on that there was a little too much pressure on Leon to produce when all the Celtics really need his for Leon to be Leon. He wasn't the guy who started the season riding the bench anymore, he was a household name especially after his ridiculous performance in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, hey even Lakers Coach Phil Jackson knows his name (well sort of). Last month Leon had his least productive month since December of last season and to us watching at home he just didn’t look right.

Not enough aggression and determination added to missed lay-ups and unsuccessful fall-aways led to the bulk of his minutes being shifted to Big Baby. Just like last January, late into the early month this year, Leon is back to being Leon and the Celtics have resurfaced a huge part of their bench. In the month of February so far Powe is averaging 7.6 ppg along with 5.4 rpg, but the most important aspect is that his defensive body is back to being in the way. On a night where it looked like Dirk Nowitzki couldn't miss and the game was down the tubes, an undersized Powe frustrated and bullied Nowitzki to an ugly 2-8 shooting in the 4th quarter, capping off a great Celtic comeback.

When Leon wasn't on the floor, Nowitzki shot over 58% as compared to 37.5% when he was guarded or helping on Dirk. As much as KG's intensity and Doc's ejection help fire up the team, Powe's ability to pick his hard helmet up off the bench and guard one of the league's best scorers was the difference between going into the All-Star game the best team in the league versus looking at the backs of the hated Lakers. Who knows if the team will add any help in the next few weeks, but with Leon back to being Leon, help might have already arrived.


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