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Meyers Leonard Returns To The Court With A Fresh Perspective

01/23/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    On December 29th, Meyers Leonard was helped off the court by his teammates after suffering an ugly and scary ankle injury. An x-ray that night revealed that the ankle wasn't broken, a relief to most. On January 21st, Leonard returned to the Rose Garden court for the first time since the replay of his injury created an audible gasp from the Rip City faithful. On Monday, his play was more of a breath of fresh air and his assertiveness and rhythm was a welcome sight for Coach Stotts. Leonard scored six points on three shots including a smooth jump hook and long-two.

    "Like I said last night, he had a very good outing for not playing for three weeks and only two practices under his belt. His jump shot and his hook were probably the two most natural offensive moves he's had all season," Stotts said of Leonard's performance against the Wizards.

    Leonard says that the aggression came from a good pre-game workout with teammate Joel Freeland and figuring out spots on the court where he can "make things happen."

    "Watching film with Kim (Hughes) and some of the other coaches, just figure out places on the court where I can really catch and finish, make things happen," Leonard said. "So yeah, I got a quick duck-in, finished the hook and then a had a nice little jumper. I was happy with that. Just got to keep being consistent and find gaps in the defense."

    After the game, Stotts admitted that he looked better than he had expected he would. Leonard had a lot of time on his hands and couldn't get on the basketball court. Stotts said that Leonard's conditioning is still not where it needs to be. Leonard believes he is close to getting back to his peak conditioning level.

    "I would say probably 85 percent," Leonard said about how close he is to being where he needs to be conditioning wise. "I still don't have all my explosion, my quickness and conditioning isn't completely there. It'll get there in the next few days."

    Leonard's conditioning is a work in progress, as is his comfort level coming back from the ankle injury and he admits that there were times where he's been more conscious about his ankle.

    "There was a little hesitation. I caught myself trying to land 1-2, left-right instead of landing on both or landing on my right. Just because you know, I guess it's natural, probably a mental thing. Naturally I think I'll grow back into playing more consistent on two feet. Just really trying to figure out what I can do until I'm full."

    Leonard was happy to get back on the court after his nearly-month-long absence. Interestingly enough, he believes that the time away from the court helped him comeback to the court with a fresh perspective.

    "When I talked to Kim about it, he was just like, 'most guys get a chance to have a break in the All-Star weekend.' Keep your mind fresh, think about what you did in the first half of the season, what you can do in the second half of the season and how you can get better," he said. " I think it definitely kind of gave me a chance to kind of sit back and look on the games I had played. Obviously, I'll still have the All-Star break as well. I think it helped me a little bit, obviously I would have loved to have been playing. But to take a moment to step back and really look at the game in the mental aspect as compared to the physical and mental. So, it was good for me."

    The time away from the game is helpful to some and detrimental to others. However, for a focused worker like Leonard, it seems that being able to put all of his energy into the mental aspect is helping him even as he still recovers physically.

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