Kevin Love Wins NBA Player of the Night After Monstrous 20-20 Outing vs Kings
Kevin Love is full of surprises.
On a night when Kobe Bryant dropped 40 points for the Los Angeles Lakers despite battling the flu, James Harden dished out 12 assists for the Houston Rockets and Darren Collison swiped five steals for the Dallas Mavericks, there was Love.
Stat Line: 23 points, 24 rebounds, two assists and two steals on 47.1 percent shooting.
The Timberwolves weren't facing an exceptionally talented team in the Kings, but they were a team that had beaten the Lakers. Plus, Minnesota hadn't been playing like an exceptionally talented team either, losing five in a row coming in.
After beginning the season 4-1, the Timberwolves lost six of their last seven before traveling to Sacramento. For a team that seemed prepared to contend for a playoff spot even before Love and Ricky Rubio's return to action, that was a problem.
A problem Love was looking to resolve.
Minnesota had yet to win a single game since his surprise return against Denver, and he was determined to change that.
Love absolutely torched the Kings' frontline. He attempted way too many—eight to be exact—three-pointers, but found ways to score against DeMarcus Cousins and company nonetheless. He also nearly out-rebounded the entire Sacramento team on the defensive end, which is simply unheard of.
But it's also a tell-tale sign of how talented Love is, and how well the Timberwolves stand to fair with him back in the fold.
This was just the forward's fourth game back since returning to the lineup from a broken hand. In that span he has averaged 24 points and 16.5 rebounds per game, adding an offensive dynamic Minnesota so sorely lacked without him.
Yet it hasn't been enough. The Timberwolves were 0-3 since his return, and many were left pining for the day Rubio would return more than ever.
After posting the NBA's first 20-20 game of the season, however, pundits and fans alike can rest a little easier.
Does Minnesota still need Rubio? Of course, but it has a capable leader in Love to carry them during the interim. His performance inspired his team and created openings and scoring opportunities for guys like Nikola Pekovic and Luke Ridnour.
It also allowed the Timberwolves to snap a losing streak that saw them go from playoff contenders to bottom-feeders.
Sure, this was just one game and yes, the Kings aren't the most formidable of opponents, but this meant more to Minnesota than just one victory.
This team had absolutely no momentum coming in. It had participated in a few close games during its losing streak, but was coming off an essential beat down against the equally as decimated Golden State Warriors.
In other words, the stage was set for the Timberwolves to lose. Again.
Yet Love wouldn't let them.
He was the one that helped put Cousins in foul trouble, thereby limiting him to just 28 minutes of action. He was the one who put up nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the third quarter alone. He was the one who drilled an improbable shot in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Who was the NBA's top performer Tuesday night?
And he was the one who re-instilled hope into a slumping franchise.
"It's not about me, it's about the team getting a win," explained Love (via James Ham of NBA.com) when asked about his monstrous performance. "We needed to get off that slump we were on."
Well, Tuesday night was certainly about the Timberwolves putting an end to their five-game skid. There's no denying that.
But make no mistake, they were able to put an end to their losing ways and enlighten what became a gloomy outlook because of Love himself.
All stats used in this article are accurate as of November 28th, 2012.
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