I'm not a particularly big fan of puzzles. They're a nice distraction when the weather is awful and the power is out, but that's about the only time I enjoy them. I lack the patience and attention to detail. I can usually get the border figured out, and maybe part of the picture. But after that I get bogged down in the tiny, perfectionist details. I eventually find myself trying the same wrong piece in the same wrong place over and over again.
Perhaps the only thing worse than a tough puzzle is watching someone else try to put one together without being able to help. Even though I probably would do just as poorly, if not worse, it is terribly frustrating to watch someone else flail.
But then you begin to see the picture come together. Someone finds that elusive piece that suddenly helps you see what the puzzle might end up looking like, and it is very exciting. And sometimes, when the pieces fall in line, you manage to beat the Trail Blazers, the Lakers, and the Hornets, followed by almost beating the Celtics.
Sorry, I wasn't sure how to turn those into a puzzle metaphor.
This season has been like watching Westphal try to put together a puzzle. He keeps moving the pieces around. We sit around, watching over his shoulder, pointing and screaming "try that piece there!"
This past week or so has given us a glimpse of what this team can someday look like. It's been a lot of fun, and very exciting.
I loved watching Tyreke Evans suddenly look like the player who won our hearts last season. Evans has been slashing to the basket, regularly making me rewind my DVR to see if I really saw what just happened. His spot-up shooting seems to have improved, even if he still takes too many fall-away misses off the dribble. I've seen him involve teammates, which led to impressive flow in the offense. My personal favorite was against the Lakers. He drove into the lane, drew multiple defenders, and dumped off to Cousins. Cousins had stepped out of the lane to give Tyreke space to create, and found himself with a wide-open 5 foot jump shot, which he easily made. It was beautiful, and it was a vision of what this team's future could look like.
And DeMarcus Cousins. Oh my. How fun has he been to watch? Watching him frustrate the hell out of Andrew Bynum. Seeing him intimidate and mock Kevin Garnett. My favorite play by DeMarcus was taking a charge from Marcus Thorton at a key moment in the 4th quarter against the Hornets. Already with 5 fouls, he stepped in and drew the charge. It was a risky play, but Cousins was not afraid.
I could spend all day praising the way this team has played lately, but the point is that this team has the border in place. Westphal keeps trying all those different pieces, but he's figuring out where some of them go. We're starting to see what the picture might look like. Tyreke creating shots and pushing the tempo. DeMarcus being a dominant big man on both ends of the floor. Omri showing flashes of becoming the perimeter threat this team so desperately needs.
We can't see the whole picture yet. The team still needs a few pieces (those pesky ones you find on the floor just when you're about to give up). But as the picture starts to come together, I like what we're seeing.