Rookie forward Kevin Love had another quiet game for the Wolves, grabbing 10 rebounds but scoring just five points on 2-of-4 shooting in more than 20 minutes.
Love did turn in one highlight-reel play, however, dunking over Howard and hitting the ensuing free throw to pull Minnesota into a 50-50 tie with 1:07 left in the first half.
“That felt good,” Love said. “I needed that and other things as well. I wasn’t really on him. It was more to the side of him, but I’ll take it.”
Next up for Love is a Monday night date with the Memphis Grizzlies and O.J. Mayo, the player the Wolves traded away in a draft-night deal for Love and Miller.
While a third of a rookie season does not make an NBA career, the Love-Mayo get-together leaves a lot to be desired. One guy (Mayo) is constantly in the first sentence of early Rookie of the Year narratives, while the other (Love) is struggling to become a footnote.
Mayo leads all rookies in scoring, and granted he’s been afforded more of an opportunity in Memphis. Still, one has to wonder what sense it would have made for the Griz to keep Love, who last Tuesday made a free throw in a one-point, 15-minute performance that ended his two-game scoreless streak.
Love is averaging 7.8 points on 38.7 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds and has had the problem scouts worried about when he entered the draft: Measured at less than 6-8 barefoot, he has gotten his shot blocked repeatedly near the basket by everyone from big centers to athletic guards.
McHale on the emergence of McCants, who has been putting in extra time after practice and has led the Wolves in scoring off the bench the past two nights with 23 and 21 points, respectively: “That’s the way life is. If you want your putting stroke to get better, I suggest you work on your putter, not your driver. If you want your marriage to get better I suggest you work on your marriage, not your golf game. It all depends on what you work on.”
Technically, the team last won back-to-back on opening night – because last season wrapped with a victory over Milwaukee. As for consecutive victories in one season, Minnesota won two in a row five times last year, the last coming April 11-12 at Orlando and Memphis. This is getting ahead of ourselves, but the Wolves last won three in a row Jan 12-15, 2007.
That was Timberwolf Mike Miller at home in South Dakota for Christmas watching cousin Jade Miller play in a freshman basketball game for the Mitchell Kernels.
The Wolves appear to be playing with more organization and purpose under Kevin McHale, but that didn’t stop their losing streak from reaching 13 with Tuesday’s 99-93 loss at San Antonio. The streak ended with Friday’s 120-107 victory at New York, sparked by Rashad McCants’ seven threes. Back home Saturday, the Wolves led Orlando at halftime but lost by 24.