Timberwolves 121, Jazz 104: Messed around and triple dipped
What can you accomplish in 32 minutes and 35 seconds?
You can run a load of laundry. You can probably cook a really nice dinner as long as the preparation isn’t too time-consuming. You can watch an episode of Full House with commercials and even pause it on the DVR to use the bathroom or play Words With Friends without distraction during each move. All the while, you’re pondering how Joey Gladstone possibly made enough money to not be a complete burden on the Tanner family household. What Kevin Love was able to do in just 32 minutes and 35 seconds last night was pretty ridiculous.
And once again, Love set another weird “record.”
Basketball-Reference tracks individual game performances from 1985-86 and allows you to search for games matching a certain criteria. Since the 85-86 season, there have been 75 games in which a player recorded a triple-double in 33 minutes or less. There have been 16 games in which a player recorded a triple-double in 33 minutes or less with at least 20 points. We’ve had two games in which a player recorded a triple-double in 33 minutes or less while scoring at least 30 points.
And as I’m sure you can guess by now if you haven’t clicked the links above, Kevin Love recorded the first game since 1985-86 (possibly NBA history) in which a player recorded at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in 33 minutes or less. Love had 22 points alone in the third quarter when the Wolves had a hell of a time stopping the Utah Jazz. The Wolves outscored the Jazz 35-32 in the quarter as Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, and Richard Jefferson combined for 27 points. The Jazz lived at the line in that quarter, making 14 of their 17 free throw attempts. Love was there to counter with his 22 points and five made 3-pointers.
Love started the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead and a stat line of 34 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Then with 10:03 left in the game, Love grabbed his 12 rebound while battling Kanter, turned to see a streaking Corey Brewer down the floor and fired an 80-foot two-handed, over the head dart to Brewer. Brewer corralled it, found his balance, and laid it over the front of the rim to complete Love’s first triple-double of his career.
It’s hard to know which outlet pass was more impressive by Love in this game. Was it the .gif above or was it Love dipping a toe behind the baseline before firing a two-handed chest pass 80 feet to hit Brewer in stride for the dunk before halftime?
There is a saint of a man on Twitter named @DawkinsMTA, who for some reason gathers all of the highlights for important performances after each night and cuts together single game highlight reels each day. I don’t want to question why this god amongst tweeters decides to do this. It could be for a job or it could be for a hobby. Regardless, he does this. You should follow on Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube page.
He posted the reel for Love’s triple-double and it’s beautiful:
The caveat to this entire game is probably that it came against the Jazz. The Jazz aren’t good. They’re also not as bad as their record either. They started the season 1-14. They were 1-12 before Trey Burke made his NBA debut and have been 18-24 since then. Saturday night, they were without Derrick Favors (sprained hip), which meant Marvin Williams had to check Love a lot of the night. Love responded by punishing their lack of capable defenders, possibly inflating his stats in the process.
But Love didn’t stat hunt in a blowout. He got his absurd 37-12-10 before checking out with 8:37 left in the game. And those kind of numbers in 33 minutes or less against any NBA competition don’t happen, as we saw above. Some will try to dismiss the performance but it was historic nonetheless. It was the right way to start out the five-game road trip that will essentially solve the Wolves’ season, either good or bad.
With the Wolves six games back of the Mavericks (five in the loss column), they don’t have any room for screwing around the rest of the way. They have a very easy stretch of games in the beginning of March that could end up being the long winning streak we’ve been craving. But they have to really get through the brunt of this road trip first. Sunday night is the second night of a back-to-back in Portland. Tuesday they’ll be in Phoenix before finishing the road stretch in Sacramento on Saturday and in Denver on Monday, March 3.
If they get through that stretch with a 4-1 or 3-2 record, I think the playoffs are alive. The next six games are home games against the Knicks, Pistons, Raptors, and Bucks (zero back-to-backs) a road game in Charlotte and then a home game against the Kings. Two of those games are against East playoff teams and the rest are against sub-.500 teams. After that stretch, they have a showdown in Dallas on March 19. Granted, a lot has to go the Wolves’ way to sneak into the playoffs but it’s doable.
It’s not doable if the Wolves come out of this trip with a 2-3 record or worse. They have left themselves with zero room for not coming out ahead on these final stretches of games. 1-0 to start and that’s thanks to the Wolves continuing their dominance over the Jazz this year. Take us home, Bazz!