Love on his 31-31 game, Kahn says Rubio will begin his NBA career with the Wolves, team plays at Atlanta tonight and more
Love's 31-point, 31-rebound performance grabbed headlines across the country, made the lowly Wolves a hot topic on national sports shows and invigorated their downtrodden fans.
"It definitely feels good," Love said Saturday, one day after becoming the first NBA player since Moses Malone in 1982 to have a 30-30 game. "There was a point where Target Center, the whole crowd was better than I've seen it the last couple years. That was a good moment. A lot of things happened for us and it was a collective effort and they were cheering us on."
Here's the exclusive 30-30 club Love joined Friday night: Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Elvin Hayes, Jerry Lucas, George Mikan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Walter Dukes, Bailey Howell, Gus Johnson, Swen Nater, Robert Parish, Willis Reed, Bob Pettit and Maurice Stokes.
The thought of being mentioned with such NBA royalty left the normally talkative Love at a loss for words.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "Tonight was one of those nights. The ball was bouncing my way. I was in a good mind-set that every rebound was going to be mine."
As Beasley continues to look more comfortable in Rambis' triangle offense, opposing teams will face the difficulty of trying to deal with Love under the basket. Atlanta will be the next team to face that challenge today when the Wolves visit Philips Arena.
It's the kind of challenge Rambis envisioned when the decision was made near the end of last season to trade Jefferson, who ended up with Utah, and give Love the full-time job at power forward. With that decision came the need to find a gifted small forward who could open up the middle with his perimeter skills. Ten games into the season, Love and Beasley seem to be an ideal match.
"We said this all last year that it's always tough for a post player like Al to be your go-to guy," Rambis said. "Teams can just turn around and double-team him. They know exactly where he is. If you don't have the outside shooting to counter that strategy, it takes the ball out of that player's hands."
From Jonah Ballow/Timberwolves site: Love In The Record Books
From Kelly Dwyer/Ball Don't Lie: Kevin Love has NBA's first 30-30 game in 28 years
From Oly Sandor/HoopsVibe: Is Team USA responsible for Kevin Love's 31 point, 31 rebound night?
Previews for tonight's game at Atlanta:
Coach Kurt Rambis said he and his staff are starting to see a young team get it.
"It was rewarding to see as a coach," he said. "They struggled, they really struggled, and a lot of it had to do with trying to figure out the Knicks and [coach Mike] D'Antoni's system. ... They struggled early, but things started clicking for them. They started seeing the advantages, see what they could do defensively, just making adjustments as the games go on. Coaches love teams that don't quit. They kept playing."
Injured Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn accompanied his teammates on a three-game swing down south and out west last week, hoping to return with his season debut imminent.
He came back home owning a lunch date with Magic Johnson as well.
The multimillionaire businessman whom Flynn considers the greatest point guard who ever played visited the Wolves' Staples Center locker room before Tuesday's game against the Lakers. At coach Kurt Rambis' request, he chatted with players for about 10 minutes in an appearance Rambis intends to be only the beginning.
Rambis wants his former teammate on the Lakers' 1980s title teams to become a mentor of sorts to his players, particularly Flynn.
But multiple sources within the Timberwolves organization guaranteed Rubio will start his career with the club, not as a Knick.
Minnesota brass is convinced that Rubio will play for the club next season, when his Barcelona buyout falls to $1 million. NBA teams are able to pay $500,000 for European buyouts, so Rubio would have to foot only $500,000 of the bill.
Rubio was drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2008 by the Timberwolves, whom the Knicks visited last night, but he elected to stay in Europe. Knicks sources said it was because Rubio wanted no part of Minnesota. But Rubio was quoted over the summer saying he likes the state.
Timberwolves GM David Kahn reiterated that the Spanish guard will begin his career with the T-Wolves, the team that drafted him, despite reports that Rubio doesn't want to play in Minnesota.
"He'll play with us," Kahn said. "He knows that."
Rubio currently plays for FC Barcelona in Spain and can exercise a $1 million buyout at the end of the season. The Wolves are limited by NBA rules to pay only $500,000 of the buyout.
The Timberwolves are counting on signing their top draft pick from two years ago, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, for next season and already are building a fast-paced offense for him.
With that in mind, a center worth watching is 6-foot-9, 235-pound Patric Young, 18, an athletic freshman at Florida. The Wolves are expected to end up with a top-five pick in June's draft. Young is much quicker than current Wolves centers Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic.
- Timberwolves general manager David Kahn, who was Isiah Thomas' boss in Indiana, told The Post last night it would be best for the former Knicks president to zip it about a potential return to the NBA.
Kahn was general manager of the Pacers when he and then-president Donnie Walsh hired Thomas to coach the team for three seasons.
During a radio appearance yesterday, Walsh sounded annoyed about Thomas' publicity tour last weekend, on which Thomas lobbied for Walsh's job once he retires.