Meyers Leonard scored 14 points and collected two assists in the Blazers' 109-103 victory over the Timberwolves tonight.
Leonard's box score line, however, does not capture the full impact of his two assists. Both were beautiful "thread-the-needle" passes to backdoor cutting Portland wings, and both plays came at crucial points of the fourth quarter.
Leonard's improved passing this season has been an underreported aspect of the Blazers' surprising success on offense. Opposing defenses have begun to challenge Leonard's outside shots, while simultaneously trying to deny passes to the Blazers' guards popping out to the perimeter for threes. The threat of Leonard's deep shot, coupled with the defense's overplay on the Portland guards, opens up the interior of the court for backdoor cuts. Leonard has been excellent at reading these situations and making the backdoor pass.
H/t to Timberwolves' TV color commentator Jim Peterson for mentioning this on the air tonight.
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