The Minnesota Timberwolves got a huge win Saturday night, beating the Houston Rockets 92-79 thanks in large part to the efforts of two players who weren’t even in the NBA a few days earlier.
Gelabale hadn’t played in the NBA since 2007-08, when he was with the Seattle SuperSonics. The French swingman had been playing in Spain. Johnson was one of the last players cut by the Timberwolves in training camp and was averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds playing center for Santa Cruz in the D-League.
So if you were looking for unlikely heroes to lead the Timberwolves to a much-needed victory—well, there they are.
The Timberwolves came into Saturday night losers of five straight, taking on a Rockets club that has also been struggling. Saturday night’s loss was Houston’s seventh in a row.
The key Saturday night for Minnesota was the contributions of Johnson and Gelabale, who scored the first 23 points of the fourth quarter.
Johnson had 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, while Gelabale scored 10 of his 11 points in the final period.
Their outburst was part of a 29-point quarter for Minnesota, which helped the Timberwolves put away the Rockets after leading by just four points, 63-59 at the end of three periods.
“I don’t think I drew it up that way,” Johnson told The Associated Press after the game.
How good was Johnson? He was hearing “M-V-P” chants from the crowd at the Target Center.
Not bad for a guy who had 41 games—and one start—over two previous NBA seasons.
NBA basketball is a game most often driven by the stars, so it’s unusual when a team gets a huge offensive spark from lesser lights.
They don’t get a lot lesser than Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale making their debuts for a new team and delivering a much-needed victory.
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