Minnesota Timberwolves reserve center Kosta Koufos stood and smiled in the visiting locker room Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena as a fun weekend came to an end.
Koufos, 21, was happy for two reasons; his Timberwolves earned a 98-97 win over the host Cleveland Cavaliers, and he got to spend Christmas with his family in Canton.
“I was blessed and fortunate enough to see my family for Christmas,” Koufos said before the game. “It was refreshing to get to sleep in my own bed and it brought back memories. It helped to get me energized for the game.”
Koufos, a 2007 GlenOak High School graduate, scored two points and grabbed four rebounds Sunday in 12 minutes and 16 seconds of playing time. The 7-foot and 265 pound former Ohio State standout also assisted on one basket.
Koufos said about 25 people were in attendance for the game. He said he keeps in touch with former GlenOak coach Jack Greynolds Jr. and several former GlenOak teammates, including C.J. McCollum, Erick McCollum and Nate West.
“I don’t look at this as any different from any other game,” Koufos said. “It is one more game that we need to win. I am going to do whatever it takes to help this team win.”
Koufos, who will turn 22 on Feb. 24, is in this third professional season after being a Utah Jazz first round draft pick. He played Sunday despite receiving an accidental elbow to his nose from teammate Martell Webster during a recent 5-on-5 full court practice session. Koufos wore a protective mask in the first half, but did not use it in the second half.
Actress Melina Kanakaredes, a Firestone High School and Akron native, attended the game.
Michael Beasley led the Timberwolves to the win with 28 points. Luke Ridnour (23 points), Kevin Love (16 points) and Jonny Flynn (11 points) also reached double figures.
Antawn Jamison paced the Cavaliers with 24 points. Anthony Parker (21 points), Mo Williams (17 points) and J.J. Hickson (11 points) also reached double figures.