Kevin Love arrived at Target Center with a bum knee and serious doubts about whether he'd play Wednesday night. Hours later, he walked into the good night not only with the longest double-double streak since Indiana joined the NBA 35 years ago but also with a 101-75 victory over the Pacers.
Love achieved his 52nd consecutive double-double game, collecting 16 point and 21 rebounds ... and he didn't even play in the fourth quarter.
Neither did the team's other four starters, after the Wolves sent the Pacers packing their bags with a decisive third quarter and won their 16th game, one more than they did last season.
By then, Love already had that 52nd consecutive double-double, which surpassed Moses Malone's 51-game streak that spanned the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons.
Heck, he already had it by halftime, the 27th time this season he has had at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in a single half.
"Basically the flip of a coin," he said of his decision 20 minutes before the opening tap. "I'm happy I made the right decision."
He said the knee's swelling and soreness Wednesday after he banged it hard in Monday's loss to Dallas left him uncertain whether he could run up and down the court enough to contribute. The streak would have continued if he didn't play. It would have ended if he had decided after a few minutes that he wasn't fit to play.
Turns out, that bruised knee was barely an issue.
Fans came to Target Center to cheer Love's every point and rebound, all the way to the number 10.
"It was nice to see Kevin to get his double-double early," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "And it was nice to see the crowd acknowledge that."
They stood and cheered when he went to the free-throw line with 6:51 left in the first half and made the first of two free throws that gave him his 10th point to go along with his double-digit rebounds.
"They're funny," Love said, nodding his head when asked if he could feel the buzz with every mounting point and rebound. "They're the same crowd that has been backing us all year, the same crowd that was chanting 'MVP' for me last game. Like I said, they're a funny crowd. They've been great all year. I'll be their MVP any day."
Those same fans then stuck around and applauded a blowout victory -- one that almost rivaled December's romp over Cleveland -- over a Pacers team that shot 29 percent. Star forward Danny Granger went 2-for-19.
"This game was bigger than the double-double streak," Love said. "We needed a win, and we needed it in a big fashion."
Love credited an ongoing conversation with assistant coach Bill Laimbeer for getting him through the night's pain and doubt.
"He was a player who played hurt," Love said. "He played with a broken nose. He played with fractured ribs. And he's not afraid to tell you that, either. He encouraged me throughout the game. I think that helped tremendously"
But is it a "record?" Wilt Chamberlain recorded at least 227 consecutive double-doubles back in another era. Nine players -- from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and Elvin Hayes to Malone, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell -- had double-double streaks of at least 50 games back when such record-keeping was more fuzzy.
"Whether you put it as 'modern day' or you put it 'NBA/ABA merger,' then I would say yes," Love said. "But if you're looking in the grand scheme of things, you've got to look at the Big Dipper, Wilt the Stilt. He's something special. It's not like I have my eye set on that. I'm pretty happy where I'm at."
• Rookie Lazar Hayward is the latest Wolves player to get hit by what the team is calling "gastroenteritis." He missed Wednesday's game. He, Wes Johnson, Sebastian Telfair and Anthony Randolph all have fallen ill since eating at the same Philadelphia cheesesteak place last week. Johnson started Wednesday, but he didn't play in the second half after getting an IV at halftime.