Timberwolves star Kevin Love and his coach have needed to communicate over such matters often enough this season that he and Rick Adelman often don’t even talk anymore when he asks Love for more.
Adelman did that in Tuesday’s blowout victory over Milwaukee, when he played Love more than 42 minutes and almost the entire second half before removing him with 1:46 left.
“There are times I’ll just look at him and I know I’m not coming out,” Love said.
Love played 42-plus minutes against Milwaukee two nights after he played more than 40 minutes in a loss to Toronto.
Such demands might have caught up with Love in Friday’s 105-93 loss at Charlotte, when he scored 18 points before halftime, none after it and suggested afterward that fatigue shut him out in the second half as much as Bobcats defenders Josh McRoberts and Cody Zeller did.
He played nearly nonstop against the Bucks without issue.
“I feel good out there,” he said before Friday’s game about those times when he is asked to play all or nearly all of the second half. “The timeouts, they help in the fourth quarter. I try to fight it through it.”
He couldn’t fight the good fight against a Bobcats team that essentially extinguished any playoff aspirations the Wolves still might have had before Friday night.
“I don’t know how these guys felt, but I was particularly tired,” Love said in the team’s locker room afterward. “It was just a tough game, a tough game from the start.”
Love played 36 minutes Friday, when Adelman tried to get him and the other starters rest to start the second quarter but brought Love and Pekovic back after five minutes when the Bobcats outscored the Wolves’ second unit 17-8 to start the quarter and assumed control of the game.
“It’s something we’re trying to do to be more efficient,” Adelman said about needing to play his starters more and often overmatched bench less. “How much I can do that, we’ll see.”
Love said he’s willing, even if there’s an accompanying price.
“Anything Coach asks, I’ll go out and play,” Love said. “It’s just something I’ve had to do. I’m just lucky it’s not 48 minutes. If I can get to sub-40, I’ll be feeling a little bit better.”
When he’s needed to play more, Love just looks toward Adelman for the sign.
Just what kind of look does the coach give?
“You know Rick’s looks,” Love said.
Adelman shrugged when asked what kind of look he gives Love to say he needs yet more from his star.
“Either I don’t say anything,” Adelman said, “or I tell him, ‘Give me a couple minutes at the start of the quarter and we’ll see.’ ’’
Dieng overmatched by Al
Wolves starting center Nikola Pekovic left Friday’s game early in the third quarter because of that troublesome right ankle that caused him to miss nearly a month in February because of what the team called bursitis. He played with pain in seven games since he returned from that injury, but said after Friday’s game that the pain became too much and he couldn’t run up and down the court.
His availability for Sunday’s game against Sacramento is uncertain.
Without him Friday, Adelman called upon rookie Gorgui Dieng and asked him to defend Charlotte star Al Jefferson, perhaps the most difficult player in the league to defend near the basket.
“He competed with him, but he’s never played [Jefferson] before,” Adelman said. “He [Jefferson] is so big and strong. We tried to help him, but at this point in the stage of his career he’s overmatched.”