From the "It's better to be lucky than good" files: Kevin Love's wrong-footed, off-balance, 13-foot left-wing bank-shot late in the fourth quarter of the Minnesota Timberwolves' Sunday matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden:
To hear Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman tell it, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Jerry Zgoda, the play unfolded “just the way” he drew it up, which Love (tongue planted firmly in cheek) confirmed after the game:
“Yeah,” Love said. “He told me he wanted to rip through, knock down Carmelo, pump fake, [Pablo] Prigoni would come, I’d have to switch up the shot and bank it. That’s the way we drew it, and that’s the way it happened.”
Imaginative design there, Rick, and execution so frustratingly good that even Spike had to reciprocate with a high-five (if angrily).
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"I know where he sits and he saw me coming, so I kind of just reached out looking for some dap," Love said after the game. "He was right there and just shook his head. It was one of those moments, Lee, MSG against the Knicks, I just saw the opportunity and took it."
It was not the only thing that Love took during his performance at the World's Most Famous Arena, which the power forward pulled from the "It's also good to be, like, super talented" files:
The final tally: 34 points on 10 for 19 shooting, 15 rebounds and five assists in 40 1/2 minutes — including nine points and five boards in the fourth quarter to outduel Carmelo Anthony and hold off a late Knicks charge — to push the Wolves to a 109-100 road win and their first 3-0 start since the 2001-02 season.
It was Love's 20th career 30-and-15 game, the most in the NBA over the last four seasons, and it's not exactly a surprise that it came against the Knicks — if you'll recall, after two seasons as a per-minute stud and diehard-beloved reserve under Kurt Rambis, Love's breakout performance for the national NBA-watching masses came in a 31-point, 30-rebound game against New York three Novembers ago. (Knicks fans damn sure recall it.)
The All-Star power forward and teammate Kevin Martin (30 points on 9 for 12 shooting, including a 5-for-5 mark from 3-point land) got plenty of help from a Knicks team that came out sluggish, struggled with turnovers and dug a massive 21-point first-quarter hole, but putting up 34-15-5 is very much in keeping with the torrid pace Love's set to start the season, irrespective of opposition.
Love's monster game on Sunday continued a strong run of early-season form that began in the Wolves' season opener and has continued apace. He's averaging a league-leading 29.7 points per game on stellar shooting percentages (50 percent from the floor, 38.7 percent from 3-point range, 79.5 percent from the foul line on 13 attempts per game), clearing nearly 35 percent of available defensive rebounds (only Reggie Evans and Omer Asik broke the 30 percent barrier last season) and assisting on just under 20 percent of his teammates' baskets while he's on the floor, which would far outstrip his career-best season mark if he can keep it up. He's wasted no time at all in reminding us just how good he is and just how much fun he is to watch, and just how dangerous this Wolves team can be with all hands on deck, unbroken and hunting for famous directors' high-fives.
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- Sports & Recreation
- New York Knicks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Rick Adelman