Love And Martin Building Camaraderie, Putting Up Numbers

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Love And Martin Building Camaraderie, Putting Up Numbers

There’s no getting around it: On Friday night, it was good to be a Kevin.

Kevin Love and Kevin Martin took over in Minnesota’s 116-108 win over the Dallas Mavericks, each scoring 32 points and each carrying the bulk of the load down the stretch as the Wolves won a key early-season matchup against a Mavs team that could be a direct competitor for playoff positioning later this season.

The duo scored a combined 17 points in the fourth quarter, including nine of the Wolves’ last 11 after the Mavs cut Minnesota’s lead to 105-102 with 2:12 to play.

That’s when Love hit a 3-pointer from Martin, and it showcased the type of relationship the two are creating as teammates on the court.

“Me and K-Love, we challenge each other,” Martin said. “That’s one thing I like about our relationship. We challenge each other a lot. He actually wanted me to do that. He said don’t come behind me. Come down and pick for me. I said what are you going to do with it? He said, ‘Just give me the ball.’ So we challenge each other, we push each other, and that just makes each other better.”

On this night, Love turned his matchup against Dallas into a spectacle of historical significance. By night’s end, his 32 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists put him into exclusive company. For instance:

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Love is the fourth player since 1954-55 to have 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, 8-plus assists in a game in which he played less than 35 minutes (he played 34:39).

  • Love is one of four players in NBA history to record 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, eight-plus assists and 3 3-pointers in a game. The others are Vince Carter, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Love is the first player in NBA history with 160 points, 80 rebounds and 30 in his first six games of the season, via Elias.
  • Love is the first player in NBA history to average 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists through six games.
  • Love is the first player to have 30 points and 15 rebounds three times in his first six games since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1988-89.
  • …and the list continues…

    Love has been an elite scorer and rebounder in this league, but players are always trying to add more to their game every year. Heading into this season, Love was challenged by the coaching staff to dish the ball. The word “facilitating” has been thrown around a lot in the past month and a half.

    So far, Love is doing it at a career pace—his 5.0 assists per game dwarf his career high 2.9 in 2009-10. It helps that this Wolves team has a few extra weapons that weren’t here a year ago. Corey Brewer is running track meets up and down the court in transition, giving Love a chance to hit him with outlet passes. And Martin’s scoring ability spaces the floor, allowing others to get a little extra window of opportunity.

    Then there is Love’s presence both in the paint and on the perimeter. His range allows him to move around the floor, pick-and-pop, post up and crash the boards for put-backs. And that level of awareness from the defense allows him to find his teammates with a well-place pass.

    The teamwork is necessary, and it’s showing. The chemistry, like the way Love and Martin are playing together, is another important piece. Both are thriving. Martin’s 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-5 from distance and another 9-of-10 from the line was another testament to that. He scored 23 points of his 32 points in the second half. He is shooting 56.7 percent from distance this season.

    “I think everyone would agree [Martin’s] and easy guy to get along with on and off the court,” Love said. “So chemistry is, we’re jelling out there, going through plays in practice. I mentioned from the get-go that we’re fortunate for him to have played in Rick’s corner offense, so he knows when to pick his spots. He’s a guy that plays great in the fourth quarter and down the stretch. He’s a shot-taker and a shot-maker for us. And I know he’s going to be doing that all season.”

    Having two players who can hit the tough shot down the stretch is an important facet of any NBA team. Having one option puts too much emphasis on one guy, and defenses can scheme toward that. Having two puts more pressure on the defense to defend multiple areas on the court.

    As these two continue to build rapport, the possibilities will continue to grow.

    Who knows what might come out of their next on-court conversation?

    “He’s a great guy that you can talk to,” Martin said. “A featured scorer, and we’ll keep building that camaraderie.”

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.

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