For the first 18 games of the season, Kurt Rambis peered down the bench in search of something that could give his team any semblance of a spark. His lowly Minnesota Timberwolves were 2-17 and looking more like the Lake Michigan Admirals of the ABA, than a young NBA team on the rise. Enter Kevin Love.
The 6-10 man-child out of UCLA – who should be a college junior right now – has given Coach Rambis more than just a job cushion in his return. After missing the first part of the season with a broken left hand, Love has caught up in a hurry. Now with ten games under his belt, the second-year pro has willed the Wolves to three wins since his return (including two consecutive over Utah). He is a straight up workhorse and has given Minnesota the complementing piece to forward Al Jefferson that it desperately needs in the post.
Through those ten games, Kevin is dropping 14.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per outing, while also leading the team – or sharing the lead – in glass swipes six times; including a 20 and 16 outing against Sacramento in a 112-96 win directly following our Friday afternoon chat.
Love’s been able to make his reemergence with the club while still working into game-shape form. He has also gotten the Wolves running more; with a flick of the fingertips, he can bomb a three-quarter-court outlet pass on a dime. He has great footwork around the basket and is a bonafide board hog. By no means is Minnesota repositioning itself atop the Northwest anytime soon, but the addition of Love has the Wolves playing a better brand of basketball. They are working more cohesively and exploiting their strength through the fast break: youth.
However, the Timberwolves do look once again fated for the Lottery and as of Monday, they are 5-23. This season may prove to be another learning process for Rambis’ guys, but Love has no plans of throwing up the white flag anytime soon.
Dime: You guys are in the midst of another tough season, but you beat Utah recently – twice. The talent’s there, what do you guys need to do to get over the hump and start being more consistent?
Kevin Love: We just have a lot of youth on our team. It’s just being able to end the game. We’ve had leads and thrown it away in the fourth quarter; not getting buckets, not getting defensive stops. Time will tell, we need to get better as a team. You know, me getting back, I just need more time.
Dime: You made two three-pointers all of last year. Through eight games this season, you’ve already dropped in nine triples and are shooting over 56 percent from deep. Did somebody work on their outside shooting this off-season?
KL: (Laughs) Yeah, I was working with Russell [Westbrook] and D-Rose this summer in Santa Monica (CA), and with a guy named Rob McClanaghan. We’d do spot up jumpers; we started out at 15-foot and moved it out from there to 18-foot, 20-foot. It’s something I worked on all summer. My threes really came from shooting (half-court) shots last season. Coach [Rambis] has confidence in me to shoot it.
Dime: You’re in your second year in the League; do you feel adjusted to the NBA game and lifestyle now?
KL: Yeah, I think so. Definitely playing this summer at the UCLA gym, doing different workouts and learning the style of game [the NBA] is. I felt like I really picked it up January 1st last season, through the end, and went from there. I knew what I had to work on – working around the rim, moving my shot out – the understanding of the game sets me up for a great career down the road.
Dime: Christmas time is coming up; you ready to brave the masses at the Mall of America?
KL: I went there on Black Friday; I don’t think we had a game – just Christmas shopping for the family and stuff.
Dime: After getting some face time in, “Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot,” I assume you’re quite the film buff. Any flicks you would recommend for the holidays?
KL: You know I wasn’t going to see the Blind Side – I’m not usually the kind of guy to see a heart-felt movie – but it was good. I definitely recommend that around the holiday season. I also saw, The Hurt Locker. I’d recommend that. Those two are on opposite sides of the spectrum, kind of polar opposites, but really good.
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