Love drops in on hometown with 42-point performance

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 4, 2012 - 9:13 AM

The Portland-area native fell just two points short of his career high as the Wolves ended a four-game road trip on an impressive note.

PORTLAND, ORE. — Ending a four-game Western trip that's only the beginning of their manic March travels, the Timberwolves, led by Kevin Love in his latest homecoming, produced a 122-110 victory Saturday over the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.

By doing so, the Wolves not only ended a 16-game losing streak against the Blazers that dates to March 2007 when Kevin Garnett called Minnesota home, but it also moved them to a 19-19 record and past Portland in the chase for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

Playing just a couple of long outlet passes away from where he grew up in Lake Oswego, Ore., Love scored 42 points -- one away from his career high and nearly double his best previous night in his hometown -- and the Wolves delivered a performance that satisfied even coach Rick Adelman's grandchildren watching from the grandstand.

The Wolves finished this four-game trip the way they began it in Los Angeles against the Clippers, by winning with a decisive fourth quarter that once again featured rookie Derrick Williams' timely contributions as well as Love and Martell Webster, two players with Portland connections on a night filled with them for the Wolves.

Williams scored nine of his 15 points in a fourth quarter when the Blazers fought back from an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter and tied the score at 84, only to watch the Wolves reel off the next 11 points for a 95-84 lead that told the outcome.

Love provided the final four points in that burst, punctuating an evening when he made five three-pointers and repeatedly punished the rim by rolling to the hoop to score on slams.

Webster scored a season-high 21 points off the bench on a night when he, Love, Adelman and assistant coaches Terry Porter and Bill Bayno came back to the city they either once called or still call home.

"It had nothing to do with Coach or me being back home," Love said. "It had to do with us winning a ballgame."

The Wolves' 122 points were their season high, topping the 120 they scored at Houston in late January.

The last time the Wolves had won in the Rose Garden, Adelman was coaching Sacramento, Love was a sophomore at nearby Lake Oswego High and Williams was an eighth-grader in Los Angeles.

"Is that right?" Adelman said afterward. "That seems to happen a lot this year, a lot of streaks we're breaking. We've been going to places and it seems like years since they beat somebody in their building. All we wanted to do is respond after two tough losses. ... But that's good. We'll take it."

Love's 42-point game -- including 5-for-8 on three-pointers -- was his second career 40-point game. Ten players have reached 40 in Wolves history, but only four of them have done it twice: Garnett four times, Isiah Rider, Al Jefferson and Love twice.

He did so on Saturday by completely outplaying fellow All Star LaMarcus Aldridge all night and outscoring him 42-14 in a matchup that Aldridge has largely dominated during Love's four years in the league. Love and the Wolves did so by sending different defenders -- and two of them often -- at Aldridge all night.

Love just missed reaching the 43 points he scored at Denver in December 2010 when he missed the first of two free throws with 64 seconds remaining.

"I did realize that because Martell kept telling me the whole time," Love said when asked if he knew his career high was that close. "Martell kept mentioning that to me. I missed the shot and told him to shut up."

By winning, the Wolves reached .500 yet again at 19-19. They also moved past the Blazers in the chase for that final playoff spot. And they didn't squander a fabulous first quarter in which they scored 40 points, led by as many as 14 points and shot 68 percent. Rookie Ricky Rubio tied a club record with 10 assists in that quarter. (He had two more the rest of the way and finished with 12.)

But most important, Adelman fulfilled his grandchildren's order that he deliver a victory for Grandpa and the visitors.

"They told me we had to win tonight," Adelman said. "There's a happy group of kids up there because they had Minnesota stuff on and I didn't want to see them get beat up."

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  • Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, left, posted up on fellow All-Star power forward Kevin Love. Love scored 42 points in the Wolves' victory; Aldridge fouled out.

  • WOLVES 122, PORTLAND 110

    Up next: 7 p.m. Monday vs. L.A. Clippers • Target Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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