Wolves 88, Bobcats 83: Been there, bro
You know what’s kind of crazy?
Kevin Love finished this game with 40 points and 19 rebounds last night, including 14 in the fourth quarter to close out the worst team in the NBA, and it’s probably his third best game of the week. The level of production and play Love is throwing at our eyeballs and his opponents’ defensive schemes are ridiculous right now. I like to fancy myself as a pretty good NBA 2K12 player. It’s really hard to put those numbers up in the video game, let alone with actual athletic giants flying around your personal space.
I’m having a hard time really getting excited about this win because they beat the worst team in the NBA. However, without Rubio, Pekovic, Barea and Beasley, it’s still cool to see Kevin Love take over a contest and just decide to win it. He didn’t win it on his own either. Anthony Tolliver had another phenomenal effort off the bench with a double-double (11 and 11). Luke Ridnour was slinging passes all over the court and finished with 15 points and 14 assists. The Wolves dominated the boards in a game that saw plenty of misses (40.7% FG for Minnesota, 39.7% for Charlotte).
Watching the Bobcats, I felt sort of bad for them. They do have talent in role player form. Bismack Biyombo is awkward and yet will be a really good rebounder and defender in this league. Kemba Walker might end up being a really good third guard on a team someday. Corey Maggette can still score. DJ White and Gerald Henderson are guys every team in the NBA would love have coming off their bench.
But they don’t have any top talent right now. They don’t have anybody who can take over a game for a six-minute stretch to give the team a little breathing room. They don’t have Kevin Love.
I feel like we were just exactly where Charlotte was not too long ago. Because of coaching decisions, a terrible roster and minutes being yanked around, the Wolves were the worst team in the league for a couple of seasons in a row. The silver lining for us was Kevin Love emerged as a future superstar and has recently fulfilled such expectations.
Charlotte doesn’t have that safety valve, or even that light at the end of the tunnel. They have failure right now and the hope that ping pong balls bounce or get sucked out of a machine in their favor so they can begin the rebuilding process. What they did have last night those is some sense of pride, which is not something you see every day in a downtrodden team bordering on the brink of historic incompetence.
Back to Love, I felt weird yesterday because I looked at his 28-11 line against the Grizzlies and thought he had a bad game. He put up 40 and 19 last night and it wasn’t even his most impressive game of the week, and I’d argue that his total effort against Denver last Sunday was even better. He’s gotten to the point in which there isn’t really a statistical output he can have that will shock me or surprise me.
If you told me he’s going to get a 30-30 against the Celtics tomorrow night, I’d probably nod my head and think, “I could see that.” If you told me he was going to have a 50-25 game or a 40-25 game or a game with eight made 3s, I wouldn’t tell you you’re being dramatic or biased. Kevin Love is incapable of fooling me right now with his fantasy numbers.
He’s just that incredible right now. Will he get named Western Conference player of the month for March with 31 and 14 averages that go with 47% from the field and 45% from 3? He probably won’t. He’ll probably lose out to Kevin Durant’s fun March. It kind of sucks that people keep forgetting about him on an individual level, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that the Wolves are still under. 500 in the standings.
Winning still matters in the NBA in order to get top recognition and Love is finding a way this year to win when undermanned. It starts with wins in Charlotte like the one last night. It may not seem like such an impressive feat, but I remember when we were in Charlotte’s position recently and the wins seemed so far away.