Niagara Gazette

Sports

December 8, 2009

NBA BASKETBALL: Flynn learning on the fly

TORONTO — Eighty miles north of Niagara Falls, Jonny Flynn is eons removed from the Niagara Frontier League.

It hasn’t even been three full years since Flynn began his senior season at Niagara Falls High School, scoring 31 points in a runaway win over Lewiston-Porter. Members of his graduating class are still trying to settle on a college major. And here’s Flynn, trying to master the most difficult position in a grown man’s game, while the best players in the world treat him for what he is.

A 20-year-old kid.

“Everybody at the NBA level is really good,” Flynn said Tuesday before his Minnesota Timberwolves dropped a 94-88 decision to the Toronto Raptors. “One through 12, everybody can go out and play at a high level. That’s something you don’t realize until you get here.”

Tuesday was the closest thing to a homecoming game for Flynn, with Minnesota visiting Toronto for the first and only time this season. Flynn left more than two dozen tickets for friends and family, and another busload of supporters came up to see the game. There were more signs in the crowd saying “Go Jonny Flynn” than for any Raptors player.

Flynn had a good statistical night, scoring 17 points and handing out eight assists. He played his most inspired ball in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points and willing the Wolves within reach of a win until the Raptors pulled away in the closing minutes.

Yet, on the whole, Flynn was outplayed by the Raptors backup point guard, Jarrett Jack, a journeyman on his third team as many years. Jack had 17 points and eight assists, just like Flynn, but when the two were on the court together, Toronto had a 16-point advantage.

That’s how coach Kurt Rambis is evaluating Flynn’s progress. He knows his young point guard has dazzling skills. But can he direct an offense that makes winning plays in the fourth quarter?

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