Love's Triple-Double Sends Wolves Past Jazz, 121-104
It really was inevitable. Kevin Love had been flirting with a triple-double stat line for much of the 2013-14 season—the points and rebounds we’ve come to expect over his six-year career now being coupled with assists on majestic outlet passes and methodical feeds in Minnesota’s half court sets.
But his first career triple-double eluded him. Until Saturday.
That’s when he broke free. Love put together 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Timberwolves opened their five-game road trip with a dominant 121-104 victory over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
“I thought at some point it would happen—I’ve been very close,” Love said. “And we’re getting a lot of good shots tonight. Rhythm shots, cuts to the basket. So I was happy it was tonight, and more happy we got the win on the first game of this long road trip.”
Wolves at Jazz
Love put up 22 points in the third quarter, and he did it during a pivotal stretch in the contest that really turned the game from a marginal Wolves lead into a rout. The Wolves started fast but couldn’t quite shake the Jazz midway through the second quarter. Utah tied the game 41-41 before Love, fittingly, found Ricky Rubio inside for the basket and one. Rubio’s free throw put the Wolves up three, Minnesota extended it to 10 and never looked back.
When Love took control in the third, Utah wasn’t able to recover.
“The end of the first half was huge,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We got up 10 and that gave us the lead, and we said the first six minutes of the third we wanted to have the first spurt. That’s what we did.”
Love added the punch, but Saturday’s win was a team effort across the board. All five Wolves starters scored in double figures, including 15 points and seven assists for Ricky Rubio, 13 points for both Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer and 11 for Dante Cunningham.
The Wolves got 32 additional points off the bench, including eight points and eight rebounds from Gorgui Dieng and another eight from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
But more than anything, the Wolves leave Utah with an important first win to start out a crucial five-game road trip, and in the process they picked up their third straight victory overall.
For the Wolves, regardless of all the accolades, numbers and examples of players stepping up throughout the game, the bottom line is the Wolves have a shot at getting back to .500 against Portland on Sunday night.
“We needed a win,” Brewer said. “Especially since we’re on the road for five games. So you have to start out with a win. To start out with a loss would’ve been bad for us.”
For the Jazz, Enes Kanter scored 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Trey Burke added 16, Alec Burks had 15 and Richard Jefferson had 14.
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
No surprise here. Love was fantastic tonight, especially in the third quarter. He put up 22 in that frame alone, including 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Love finished the night with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He shot 11-of-20 from the field, 6-of-10 from 3-opint range and was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. The outlet passes he was throwing all night was similar to what he was able to do earlier on in the season. And he did all this at the center position.
Highlight of the Night
Love was sitting one assist shy of a triple-double with 2:33 left in the third when he fired a full-court outlet pass to Corey Brewer. Brewer caught the ball in stride, needed to duck under a Jazz defender in the paint, and gently toss the basketball into the hoop. Whether or not Brewer realized the significance of the basket, he pointed back at Love while the rest of the Wolves’ bench jumped up. The basket put the Wolves up 87-72, and it solidified Love’s first career triple-double.
The Numbers Game
Wolves 121, Jazz 104
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Quote of the Night
“It’s unbelievable because he does it all the time—sometimes, we don’t realize how big it is. He puts up video game numbers, and it’s just fun to play with him.” — Wolves guard Ricky Rubio on Kevin Love
The Wolves will take off tonight right after the conclusion of the Jazz game and head to Portland, where they will take on the Trail Blazers on Sunday night at Moda Center. Tipoff for that game is set for 8 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. After that, the Wolves will have a travel day on Monday and face the Suns in Phoenix on Tuesday. That game is set for 8 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.