Love's Month to Remember
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Love's Month to RememberKevin Love needs just one arm to snatch that coveted orange ball floating above the cylinder.
Case in point, one of the 31 rebounds he captured against the Knicks was a difficult tip-in over Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Love utilized his left arm to balance his leap past Chandler while he simultaneously extended his right arm for the rebound and bucket.
The magical night at the Target Center placed Love directly in the national spotlight after posting the first 30-30 night since Moses Malone in 1982. Even today, the box score is just ridiculous to glance at; 31 points and 31 rebounds in 41 minutes of game action.
When the Lakers visited Minnesota the following week, Lamar Odom took notice of his USA teammate, "That was amazing. It was amazing. You hardly ever see 30-rebound games -- that was just amazing."
Over the past two seasons, Love has developed a reputation for his work on the glass and was gaining recognition as one of the top rebounders in the league. However, the electrifying November 12 night effectively added the third-year player next to elite company and in the record books. Remember the Round Mound of Rebound? Charles Barley was the last player to amass 30-plus rebounds in 1996. So, to be perfectly clear, Malone, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barkley, and now, Love.
"Did you see that? Every rebound came off he got. 20 and 20 is one thing, but 30 and 30? If he plays like that every night, that's nice. 28 years? That's something special. That's something to be proud of, on top of the win," Michael Beasley reiterated in the locker room following the victory over the Knicks.
One should not be surprised by the remarkable accomplishment from Love, considering the previous Tuesday night, where he dropped 23 points and 24 rebounds in Los Angeles. With substantial minutes, Love was knocking on the door in several games and closed out November in impressive fashion.
In November, Love increased his level of play, averaging 20.1 points and 15.4 rebounds per game. The former UCLA product shot 44.9 percent from the floor, 35 percent behind the arc, and an efficient 90 percent at the charity stripe. He jumped ahead of Kevin Garnett with five 20/20 games before the age of 23 and he is just one of four players to post multiple 30/20 games in the same month. According to basketball-reference.com, the most 20/20 games in a month since the 1986-87 season is four, done twice by Atlanta's Kevin Willis in the 1991-92 season (November and February). Love matched this monthly total with his fourth 20/20 game against Golden State last Saturday night.
"Kevin Love is definitely a force to be reckoned with; I'm a fan of his game. He is a great rebounder and he plays the game the right way," Knicks star forward Amar'e Stoudemire stated.
The rebounding numbers are outstanding and lead any conversation when discussing Love. What needs more magnification is the offensive output from Love this year. He expanded his game out to the 3-point line and especially near the elbow or pinch post where head coach Kurt Rambis likes to initiate several offensive sets. Averaging a career-best 19 points per game this season, Love has established a comfortable and consistent role on that side of the floor.
At 22 years old, Love resembles throwback power forwards like Horace Grant, Charles Oakley, Buck Williams, and at times, Barkley with the tenacious approach to rebounding. From appearances on ESPN, NBATV, and the national notoriety from a spectacular game in November, Love is building momentum at a key moment in his basketball life. The next step in his short career is to extend the jaw-dropping November month into an entire season.
As fans head to NBA.com to vote for their 2011 All-Stars, Love's league-leading 14.9 rebounds and 12 double-doubles in 17 games should jump off the page. Whether he suits up in a Western Conference All-Star uniform in February or not, the future is extremely bright for Love and he left Wolves Nation with one incredible month to remember.
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