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Cavs’ Powe makes season debut vs. C’s

02.26.10 at 6:57 am ET
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Leon Powe walked past the visitors locker room when he arrived TD Garden. It’s not exactly a place he frequented when he played for the Celtics.

“When I came here early I did take an extra step that way [toward the Celtics locker room] because I’ve never been in this locker room before now,“ he said, laughing, “I came here, I was like, ‘Oh this locker room’s trash.’ I was like, ‘Oh, no wonder I’ve never been in here.’ ”

On Thursday night he returned to the building where he played his first NBA game, won a championship, and spent the first three years of his career.

As it turns out, it was also the same building where he experienced another first.

After missing 10 months with a torn ACL, Powe made his regular-season debut with the Cavaliers on, of all place, the Garden parquet.

It took a minute to register when coach Mike Brown gave him the nod late in the second quarter.

“He called my name like three times,” Powe said. “I didn’t even know, was he calling me? I was looking down, I’m the only Leon, OK. All right, I’m going to go in now. So I wasn’t really sure. My teammates tapped me — ‘Hey, hey, go in man.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK. I haven’t played in a while, but it felt good getting back out there a little bit.”

Powe made the most of his four minutes of playing time. He scored four points, hit two free throws, and grabbed a pair of rebounds.

His main focus, though, continues to be tough defense. His assignment against the Celtics? Defend Kevin Garnett.

“I was just messing with him a little bit, talking a little junk to him. He said a couple of things to me so I said something back,” Powe chuckled. “You know me and KG, anybody can attest to this, at practice we’d go at it all the time, yelling, pushing, going at each other all the time. It was just like old times. It’s just his way of saying what’s up.”

Not only did Powe appreciate Garnett’s greeting, the response from the Celtics fans went a long way too. Just two days after giving Eddie House a standing ovation when he returned as a Knick, the crowd greeted Powe with a loud cheer.

“The fans appreciated the hard work I did while I was here, and that’s big to me.” he said. “I just hope that they continue to stick with me so any time I come here, I’d get a standing ovation.”

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