Kevin Love is simply a monster. It’s been fun watching Ricky Rubio set others up with dazzling passes but it’s been more enjoyable to watch Love just dominate opposing bigs in the paint, then step outside and knock down a three without a blip.
Because of Love’s valiant efforts, the Wolves were able to clip the Suns in a very close game, 127-124.
This was an important game because it’s the first of a seven game road streak. The easy-ish ones are must-haves. The Suns didn’t make this one easy by any means and Love responded to the challenge by filling the net up for 30 points. With that performance, Love broke a franchise record with 15 games of 30+ scoring games … And there’s still 23 games left in a shortened season.
No one figured Love to be the explosive scorer he’s become now; he’s fourth in the league in scoring ahead of guys like Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade and even former NBA MVP Derrick Rose. The scoring boost has helped other Timberwolves slide right into their place, though. Last night, if it weren’t for Love’s surge, odds are Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley would’ve continued to chuck up shots, which sometimes works and sometimes it really doesn’t. More often than not, it’s the latter. Nikola Pekovic hopped aboard the scorer’s express but did it in his own way, netting 24 points and also grabbing eight boards.
Pekovic and Love are forming one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA. They’re two burly white guys with beards that seem more out-of-place than me at Manny’s Steakhouse. But the incentive to their awkward, white ways is the conducive relationship on the court. The two play beautifully off of eachother. Pekovic is owning the paint and offensive boards, which gives Love a rest in the regard and also allows him to work outside on pick ‘n’ rolls or spot-up threes.
Last night the Suns had no chance of shutting either of those two down. They scored on 22 of their combined 40 shots, and only turned the ball over three times. When the Wolves limit their turnovers, they make better use of their possessions, and have the firepower to score 120+ points on almost any given night. The limited turnovers also forced the Suns to play at the Wolves’ tempo, which sometimes seemed to get tear up Nash’s feel for the game.
The way I’m writing makes it sound like this game was a cake-walk. Not even. The Wolves let go of a small lead in the final two minutes. It actually came down to two missed floaters from Nash that helped the Wolves lock this one up. Then they hit they’re free throws in the clutch — Even Wes Johnson did — and it was enough to lock this thing up and start the road trip off right.
Next up the Wolves head to Utah to face the Jazz. The Jazz’s impressive and deep frontcourt will give Love and Pek a run for their money. But that game comes after the trade deadline! Both rosters could look pretty different by tipoff.
Be sure to visit Howlin’ T-Wolf over the next few days to catch up on all of the trade rumor fun. Tom and I will be covering everything that goes down, whether it’s the Timberwolves directly, a Western Conference rival or the Dwight sweepstakes. We’ll be here with the facts and, of course, pristine analysis.