Postgame: McHale says Wolves 'kicked our tail'
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- February 18, 2012 - 1:06 PM
Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic on Friday night became the first players in franchise history to record 30/10 points and rebounds in the same game.
Can you imagine what Houston coach Kevin McHale said to himself on his ride home tonight, beaten by the two guys he brought to Minnesota?
The Wolves and Rockets completed their four-game season series already with the Wolves winning the final three games and tonight they did so with Love and Pekovic combining for 63 points and 29 rebounds.
That's three more rebounds than the Rockets grabbed as a team.
Here's the game story from Friday's game, in which Rick Adelman campaigned afterward for Pekovic to get an invitation to next week's All Star Rising Stars game.
Adelman's point: If the NBA added Jeremy Lin and Norris Cole on Thursday to the game, how can they possibly deny Pekovic, who now has seven double-doubles in 10 February games.
Pek reached a career scoring high with 30 points, just two weeks after he put up 27 at New Jersey.
So while guys David Kahn brought to Minnesota -- Darko!, Anthony Randolph, Wayne Ellington and Anthony Tolliver -- sat and watched all night, Love and Pekovic went out and pounded the Rockets all night.
"I mean, look, they just beat us up," McHale said. "They just kicked our tail."
Nine of Pekovic's 12 rebounds were offensive boards, 28 of his 30 points came in the first three s.
Pekovic carried the Wolves to the verge of victory on his big, broad shoulders, and then Love took the Wolves the rest of the way.
The Wolves led 91-77 after three quarters when Adelman sat Pekovic down for a brief rest and went to a zone defense he used late in the third quarter, this time with Love at the center spot.
Adelman admitted afterward that the zone was a gamble, but he deemed it one worth taking because McHale sent Patrick Patterson out as his center and Adelman said he felt the Rockets would dice them with the pick-and-roll if they stuck with a man-to-man defense that had served them pretty well until then.
Instead, the Rockets made three threes -- one each from Chandler Parsons, Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee -- during a 17-4 run that got them right back in the game and twice brought them back within a point, the last at 95-94 with fewer than six minutes left.
"I took a gamble," he said. "They had some guys who haven't made many threes all year and they just shot it."
And just quick as that, Love rescued the Wolves by scoring eight straight points, including a pair of HUGE back-to-back threes that set them off on a 16-4 run of their own to finish the game.
"This isn't about me," he said afterward. "This is about us competing down the stretch."
It's also about Pekovic's physical strength and confidence make Love's job easier recently.
"So much easier," Love said. "Just having him out there playing at a high level, he's consuming so many players and drawing so much attention from the other teams. It's allowing me more one-on-one opportunities."
I asked Love after the game if the Houston fans booed him tonight because he was the guy who planted his size 19 sneaker on Luis Scola's face or because he sent the Rockets home losers by scoring 14 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think a little bit of both," he said. "Hopefully, they'll move past the stomp, know I learned from it and just remember me as a good player who beat them up in the fourth quarter."
Pek, meanwhile, just seems to play better and better by the game while Darko again sat all night tonight.
Darko wasn't alone. Wayne Ellington, the Anthonys (Randolph and Tollliver) and Brad Miller didn't get off the bench either now that it's clear Adelman will shorten his rotation despite the demanding schedule as much as he feels he needs to if it's going to mean a chance to win every night.
Tonight that meant every starter but Wes Johnson played more than 39 minutes and Michael Beasley and Martell Webster each played 18:50 while Derrick Williams played 9:50.
Getting an idea who the coach trusts?
Pekovic played more than anybody, 42:22.
Pek credits beginning the season playing in Europe during the lockout with keeping him in shape and ready to do what he's doing now.
"I was playing back in Europe, I was pretty much ready in shape," he said. "I already played 20 games there before I came here. When I wasn't playing here, I was just trying to keep myself in shape. As my father said to me, `Keep working, something must happen.' So it just started, little by little."
And little by little now adds up to something pretty big.
"Pek is playing unbelievable," RIcky Rubio said. "Everybody knows Kevin can do that. Not a lot of people knew Pekovic can do that. I knew it because he played in Europe before and I saw him a lot of times and I knew he is able to do stuff. But he's showing up everybody what he can do. He's a monster. He's huge. He's a great player."
Rubio, btw, apologized to Adelman after tonight's game for his six turnovers.
He also had 18 points (on 6 for 13 shooting), nine assists, two rebounds and a steal and seemed so in command of his team and the game when the Wolves built up that 17-point lead.
"I turn over like six times," Rubio said. "Our goal was to control the ball, especially with me. I struggled with that today. I got six, especially in the last quarter (when he had two) in tough moments."
That's all from Houston here Friday night.
Kent's got Saturday's practice and Sunday's game against Philadelphia before I pick them back up Monday in Denver for a long run through the All Star break -- I'll be in Orlando along with KLove, Rubio and Williams -- and then onto a four-game Western road trip that kicks off nearly a month of being on the road far more often that not.
They play 14 of 20 games after the All Star Game on the road.
That might not be such a bad thing, considering they're now 7-6 on the road and 8-10 at home.
"I don't understand it," Adelman said. "It just seems like we just play better on the road. I just told them, `We want to go home and beat a good team.' We're playing a really good team on Sunday. If we're going to hang around this thing (a playoff hunt), we're going to have to beat these good teams. That's the only way we're going to hang around."
Finally, here's Rubio's behind-the-back-with-English pass to Love in the game's final minute.
© 2016 Star Tribune