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News » Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-10-30

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-10-30

Minnesota Timberwolves Getting Inside 2008-10-30
The only other time Kevin Love can remember not starting a basketball game was UCLA's Senior Night last season, when the freshman deferred to Lorenzo Mata-Real for the game's opening tip.

On Wednesday, Love made his NBA debut when he entered the Timberwolves' season-opening 98-96 victory over Sacramento late in the first quarter. And even though he played fewer than 19 minutes, he made his presence known with a 12-point, nine-rebound performance that left him one rebound shy of becoming only the third Timberwolf ever to get a double-double in his team debut.

It took him just 13 seconds to score his first NBA points, putting back a missed Craig Smith free throw for one of his four offensive rebounds on the night.

"Well, we got the first one out of the way," he said.

He was referring to the team's victory, but could just as well have been talking about those first two quick points. He provided the pulse to two telling Wolves' runs, a 9-2 second-quarter burst that helped build a seven-point halftime lead and a 10-2 fourth-quarter burst that gave them a nine-point lead with 3:40 left -- that they nearly squandered. They survived when John Salmons' put-back attempt just before the final buzzer missed.

"Once I got into a groove, got out there for the first time, I was fine," Love said. Love provided energy and he kept the ball alive repeatedly on the offensive glass.

"That's who Kevin is," coach Randy Wittman said. "He does a little bit of everything. He shoots, he rebounds."

Last week, Love made his Target Center debut with a 1-for-10 shooting night against Chicago in a preseason game. Afterward, he looked so forlorn, you almost wanted to go up and give the big sweaty guy a hug.

On Wednesday, he already was a crowd favorite by the time he checked back into the game to start the fourth quarter.

"It was nice having that crowd," Love said. "Hopefully they stay on my side, too."

WOLVES 98, KINGS 96: Ahead nine points late in the first half and by nine again with 3:40 left in the game, the Wolves withstood the Kings in the final 25 seconds when not one, but two potential Sacramento game-tying shots missed just before the final buzzer.

Al Jefferson, of course, led the Wolves with his routine double-double -- 21 points, 10 rebounds -- but he scored just three points after halftime. The Wolves countered by having six players score in double-figures: Jefferson, Love, Ryan Gomes, Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Rashad McCants.

The Wolves could have made things easier on themselves if they hadn't missed as many free throws -- 11 -- as they made.

The Wolves led by eight or more points eight times, but could never seal the deal until Kevin Martin (5-for-19, 17 points, due in good part to Corey Brewer's defense) missed a jumper and John Salmons (24 points) missed the follow-up just before the buzzer.

The Wolves already have reached a place they never approached last season: They're over .500, at 1-0.

"Honest, this is the first time in my career I think I've won the first game," said Jefferson, who played his first three pro seasons in Boston.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 30, 2008


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