This just in from the Elias Sports Bureau, for all you late-night Kevin Love fans: Love just reached another milestone.
Love is the first player in NBA history -- history -- to record 35 points, 10 rebounds and hit five three-pointers in consecutive games.
Greetings. Kent Youngblood here, for the final time tonight.
Seems every time you turn around Love is getting better at something. The latest step, in evidence Monday, was his crunch-time production.
With the Clippers pushing and just about everybody not named Love making mistake after mistake -- we offer in evidence Martell Webster's late turnover and foul, or both DWill and Luke Ridnour fouling Chris Paul on late three-point attempts -- Love kept a cool head and got the job done.
Love, who has now scored 81 points in his last two games, did what he did in Portland by starting strong Monday, scoring 16 first-quarter points including a personal 11-0 run that included three three-pointers.
And then he scored nine more in the fourth quarter, including six of the team's final seven points. And it wasn't by just hitting jumpers. He scored the Wolves second-to-last basket over Kenyon Martin with a jumper. The last basket came when he faked a jumper then drove the lane for a deuce with 43.4 seconds left that gave the Wolves a 95-90 lead.
Afterward everybody was gushing about Love. Luke Ridnour, that wily vet, talked about how much fun it was to see Love's game grow. Ricky Rubio said he thinks Love winning the three-point shooting contest at the All-Star Game gave Love extra confidence. "He can't miss," Rubio said.
Here is Wolves coach Rick Adelman: "He made two huge jumpers and then he went to the basket and got the basket. It's going to take him time to figure it out. You have to have confidence that you are going to get what you want. But the great thing about him is he gets what he wants and he's such a good free throw shooter so it all adds in."
As Love grows, so does the team. Here was yet another nail-biter, a game going down to the wire, that the Wolves have won. Minnesota, 3-0 vs. the Clippers this season, have won two of them in the closing moments. This team is gaining confidence by the game, and it now starting to bring it at home. Monday marked the Wolves' fourth straight home victory.
Here are some other observations from tonight:
--How about Darko! Milicic? With Nikola Pekovic out with a sore right foot, Darko! stepped in and played well, with 13 points, decent defense on Blake Griffin and a team best plus-12 rating.
--How about Michael Beasley? He scored just nine points and he had a turnover. But all nine points came in the fourth quarter. Indeed, only Love (nine), Beasley (nine) and Ridnour (two free throws) scored for the Wolves in the fourth quarter.
--Here is a fairly misleading box score line: Ricky Rubio had just four points tonight on 1-for-7 shooting. But he had a big impact. His play late in the third quarter helped the Wolves break open a tie game and take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. He also got the big rebound after Chris Paul missed the third of three free throws late in the game.
--It says something that the Wolves can win a game when guards Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Rubio combine to shoot 5-for-25 (1-for-7 from three-point range) and turn the ball over five times.
-- With the win the Wolves pulled within 1 1/2 games of No. 8 Houston in the Western Conference playoff race.
-- The Wolves' four-game winning streak is their longest since Dec. 29, 2008-Jan. 10, 2010, when they beat Memphis, Golden State, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee. The last time they won five straight at home: Dec. 26, 2006-Jan. 7, 2007, when they beat Chicago, Seattle, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Houston.
-- Monday's victory was the Wolves' 15th against Western Conference opponents, their most in a season since they went 18-34 in 2006-07. They won 15 games against West teams in the last two seasons combined, 8-44 in 2009-10 and 7-45 in 2010-11).
That's about it for tonight. Jerry will have practice tomorrow.