If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance.
-Theoden, Lord of the Rings
Let’s be clear: I don’t think Kevin Love is gone two and a half hours from the time this is posted. But if he is, that was quite the exit.
Faced with the toughest defense in the NBA, Love scored 42 points and pulled down 16 rebounds shooting an impressive 14-for-22 from the field, 5-for-10 from 3-point range. He scored on a variety of stepbacks, pick-and-pops, putbacks and every Kevin Love trick you would imagine.
In the process, he helped Ricky Rubio tally a career-high 17 assists. Rubio couldn’t make anything — 2-for-10, 2-for-6 from the free throw line — but he didn’t need to. His passing was back in 2011 form, most notably on one gorgeous pump fake and no-look dish to Ronny Turiaf for a massive slam. It was one of the best plays of the 2013-14 season thus far, and an incredibly encouraging sign. Rubio’s lack of shooting isn’t ideal, but if he is dishing and defending like last night, we can deal with the poor shooting.
Interestingly, it was Minnesota’s bench that did most of the damage. Leading 30-20 in the second quarter, the Wolves’ second unit helped push the lead to 40-20, a lead which they wouldn’t relinquish.
Much is made of signature wins, and while there were certainly mitigating factors for the Pacers (the second night of a back-to-back on the road, a long All-Star weekend for their two best players), Indiana is easily the best win for Minnesota this season. Unfortunately, it will be slightly overshadowed by today’s events — whether by sighs of relief once the trade deadline is passed or an uproar if…well, I won’t go there. One way or the other, beating Indiana on a night Paul George drops 35 is a great win.
And now, back to the rumors.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.