With 10.3 seconds remaining in Monday's seesaw finish to the Celtics-Timberwolves clash, Minnesota ran a near-perfect inbounds play for guard Luke Ridnour, who took a feed from Michael Beasley and nearly delivered the go-ahead layup. Two problems: 1) Ridnour took three steps while trying to get to the rim and 2) He got swatted by Ray Allen, scrambling from the far corner to prevent an easy basket had Ridnour not been whistled for traveling.
The violation essentially saved Boston's 96-93 triumph. Allen's block, as pretty as it was, would have at least given the Timberwolves another gasp at a winning shot. But the turnover shouldn't take away from the beauty of the play, which got replayed roughly 417 times on the JumboTron during the brief timeout that followed at the TD Garden, fans squealing with delight each time Allen scrambled over for the emphatic rejection.
While Rajon Rondo (caught chasing on the play) immediately signaled for the travel call at the whistle, Celtics coach Doc Rivers was so certain Minnesota was about to go ahead as he watched the play unfold, that he started thinking, even if just for a fleeting second, about which play his team would run on its final possession.
"I knew Ray had it -- all the way. Yeah, we put Ray back there to protect the basket," said Rivers, unable to contain his own laughter. "No, I was thinking ATO [after timeout and the play] we were going to have to run being down one. You know, we overplayed it. And we didn’t want to do that, but we did. And [Ridnour] made a nice adjustment. The play was, I think, for him to pop out, quick pick and roll. And give Ridnour credit. I thought he made a great adjustment. Unfortunately, he traveled. Or fortunately.”
For his part, Allen said the play unfolded in "slow motion" once he saw Rondo get beat and he simply did what Boston's defense is predicated on: Help. The fact that he was able to scramble all the way from the 3-point line and block a shot on the opposite side of the rim is amazing.
And it probably deserves some sort of asterisk on the official stat sheet.
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