HOUSTON - Those relatively few fans who made it through the driving rain in time for pregame introductions Friday night at Toyota Center booed heartily when Timberwolves forward Kevin Love's name was announced.
He has seen and heard worse.
Houston fans booed because Love stepped on their guy Luis Scola's face and chest in a game at Target Center two weeks ago, a transgression for which the NBA suspended him two games.
Four years ago last month, Love went with his UCLA team to Oregon and received death-threat messages on his cell phone from fans who were angry he didn't stay at home to play for the Ducks.
"Horrible, nothing will ever top that," he said. "It was crazy, throwing all sorts of things -- hot dogs and popcorn and gum -- at my family, calling them all sorts of names. They were calling my grandma who's 80 years old -- she's going to get mad at me for telling her age -- all sorts of stuff. I feared for my family's safety, but I blocked all that out."
Love went out that night and delivered a 26-point, 18-rebound performance and UCLA won.
On Friday, he had a 33-point, 17-rebound game, hearing boos and jeers sporadically all night.A Barea baby
The Wolves on Friday again played without guard J.J. Barea, who flew home to Minnesota earlier on Friday to be with his girlfriend -- former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera -- who is expecting the couple's first child.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman again started point guards Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio in the backcourt but brought Martell Webster into the game earlier than usual in an attempt to give both players more rest.
Barea has played in 15 of 29 games this season after appearing in 81 of 82 games for Dallas last season.Home rage
Rockets coach Kevin McHale sure hoped his team hadn't forgotten Love's footwork on Scola's face and wanted them to carry their rage from that night into Friday's game.
"I liked the fact that we had 12 players shoulder to shoulder, everybody screaming at a ref, screaming at them," McHale said. "That's the way I played. I liked that, I like 15, 16 guys in an arena with 18,000 people screaming at everybody you can scream at. That's fun. That's the most enjoyable time I had with this team. Everybody came together. It's on then. That's what's fun."The toughest critics
Scola said he considered Love's apology that night sincere and on Friday downplayed the incident, saying, "I think he didn't want to do it. I don't think it's a big deal."
But the question is: Will his children ever forgive Love? They sent their father a video voicing their displeasure with a certain Timberwolf.
"We'll see today," Scola said, laughing, after Friday's morning shootaround. "They will see him today. We'll see what they say."Lob to the stars
Rubio will play with bouncy Blake Griffin and against teammate Derrick Williams in next Friday's All-Star weekend Rising Stars game.
Shaquille O'Neal drafted both him and Griffin, while Charles Barkley took Williams.
"We're going to see if he can catch my passes and see if he can jump as on TV," Rubio said of Griffin. "I mean, I can throw it high. We will see how high he can jump."Parting shot
Rubio will join Jeremy Lin, Kemba Walker, Norris Cole and Brandon Knight on Team Shaq.
"We have a lot of point guards," Rubio said slyly. "I don't know if Shaq is a good GM."
|Texas - WP: S. Tolleson||16||FINAL|
|Oakland - LP: D. Hooker||15|
|San Diego St||58|
|Sam Houston St||49||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||68|
|New Mexico St||77|
|Red Bull New York||1|
|Sporting Kansas City||1|
|Real Salt Lake||3||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||64|
|Coll of Charleston||52||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||80|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||84|