KG's impact still lingers in play of Bass

KG's impact still lingers in play of Bass
November 7, 2013, 2:00 am
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BOSTON — When Kevin Garnett was traded to Brooklyn, he left behind a clear and undeniable legacy in Boston.

Banner 17?

A team with a defensive-minded disposition?

Powder residue in the crevices of the TD Garden floor?

The true legacy of Garnett was on display in Boston's 97-87 win over Utah.

And it's called Brandon Bass.

For all that Kevin Garnett did for this Celtics franchise, no returning player seemed to embrace Garnett-ism more than Brandon Bass.

And while we've seen flashes of it from time to time, Wednesday was one of those rare nights when Bass was very Garnett-like not only in the plays he made, but the fact that they came at some of the most critical moments of the night.

With the Celtics looking as though they would choke away another ginormous lead at home, it was Bass who stepped up with a big block on a driving lay-up attempt by Utah's Gordon Hayward late in the fourth quarter

Eight seconds later, the Jazz turned the ball over.

And on the ensuing Celtics possession, Bass drained a 16-foot jumper with 2:06 to play and capped off the victory with an uncontested dunk in the final minute of the game that pushed Boston's lead back to double digits.

"I just think that over the years me playing different roles, tonight I was kind of able to put it all together," Bass said.

When he came to Boston from Orlando via trade in 2011, Bass was a pick-and-pop shooter that was a defensive liability.

Then, playing for the Celtics, a defensive-minded bunch led by Garnett, Bass knew he had to change or he wouldn't play.

So he worked at, spending time reviewing himself, watching others, doing whatever he could to improve as a defender.

In the 2012 playoffs, Bass' defense finally caught the attention of the masses when he was charged with guarding LeBron James.

He didn't shut James down, obviously.

Still, he shocked many by holding his own and making James work surprisingly harder than many expected.

Bass found himself matched up against the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony last season in the playoffs, and once again Bass made it tough on one of the NBA's elite scorers.

Still, Bass will be the first to tell you that he has room to grow both as a player, a person and into his new role as a team leader.

And it is that latter title, leader, that makes what he did on Wednesday so special.

This is still Rajon Rondo's team, but Rondo's influence will continue to be limited somewhat until he returns from his torn right ACL injury suffered in January.

Gerald Wallace seemed ready to fall into that role as a primary leader, but with him coming off the bench now - something he has rarely done since his early days in Sacramento - leadership with the first group is somewhat uncertain.

That is, until Bass asserts himself in that role which he appears ready and willing to do now.

"That's what I want to be able to bring to the table every night," Bass said. "Whatever we need; if it's defense and stopping a player, if it's trying to get all the rebounds, if it's scoring, that's what I want to bring to the table every night."

And now he's getting an opportunity to do that in the closing moments of games, something that didn't always happen under former coach Doc Rivers.

"I live for that," Bass said of playing big minutes in the fourth quarter. "That's what it's about, being in a game during crunch time and able to get your team a win."

But as much as Bass wants to be "that" guy, it can only work if he has the confidence of his teammates.

Yup, he's got that covered too.

"He's one of our leaders, one of our vets," said rookie guard Phil Pressey. "Guys look to him when we need a bucket as well as a stop. He's always talking, both in the huddle and he's been there, done that. We expect that from him. It's not a surprise to us; we expect him to do that every night."

Funny, that sounds a lot like ...