Love pleads innocence over stomp on Scola

Houston Rockets' Luis Scola, of Argentina, is knocked to the floor by Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, rear, in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Minneapolis. No foul was called on the play. The Timberwolves won 100-91.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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There were about 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter Saturday when Houston's Luis Scola put the ball on the floor and drove towards the basket.

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love appeared to foul Scola, though none was called. But what happened next was on YouTube within minutes and had people talking after the game.

Scola went to the floor. Love, as he was getting ready to run up court, stepped on Scola's face and chest with his left foot.

Referees didn't see it. But that moment changed the tenor of the game.

At the other end, the Rockets bench got called for a technical for complaining about the no-call. Luke Ridnour hit the free throw, extending the Wolves lead to 13. Emotionally charged, the Rockets fought back to within three midway through the fourth quarter before the Wolves ultimately prevailed 100-91.

Neither Wolves coach Rick Adelman nor Rockets coach Kevin McHale said they saw it. But it appeared Scola got a good feel for Love's size-19 sneakers. "Yeah, whatever the brand is," Scola said.

The big question afterward was: Was it intentional? And, will it be something NBA head of discipline Stu Jackson takes a look at?

"He was kind of right there," Love said. "I have size-19 feet. He just happened to be there. I had nowhere to go. I kind of tripped up. I just had nowhere to step. It was a heat-of-the-moment type play. He was there and it happened to be his face."

Love said he and Scola have a good relationship, and was sure Scola didn't take it personally. "And obviously it was nothing personal against their team," Love said. "... Nothing personal, just heat of the moment."

Should Love be suspended? "I just don't care about the play, the game is over," said Scola, who added that he didn't know if the step was intentional or not. "I was just really surprised. ... I'm talking about the play. I think he wanted to foul me, and I don't know why the ref didn't call it."

Love, who apologized to Scola after the game, not surprisingly said he didn't think the play merited a further action. "It was one of those plays," Love said. "You look at it, and you might think otherwise."

On Monday night, Scola saved a ball from going out of bounds when he threw it off Love's groin. Said Love: "It happened to be his face, just like Houston, where it happened to be my groin."

Pekovic impresses

For the third time this season, the Rockets faced a Wolves team that has only two players left who date from McHale's years as the team's vice president of basketball operations: Love and Nikola Pekovic, both of whom McHale acquired on draft night in 2008.

Pekovic came into Saturday fresh off Friday's 27-point, 11-rebound performance at New Jersey, the biggest night of his two-year NBA career. With Darko Milicic out because of a thigh contusion, Pekovic made his fourth start of the season, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.

"The more he gets out there, the better he plays," Love said.

Folks are noticing. McHale had a pre-game message for his team.

"He and Love, those two guys [in New Jersey] really were aggressive," McHale said. "They had a beatdown party going there in the paint."

Etc.

• After talking about Love and Pekovic pregame, McHale was asked who was responsible for bring both players here. "Please," he responded.

• With 13 points and 11 assists Ricky Rubio had his league-leading 11th points/assists double-double.

• Backup center Brad Miller's playing time is limited at least in part because of conditioning, Adelman said.

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