Kevin I vs. Kevin II: Wolves past meets present

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2012 - 11:53 AM

With the rise of Kevin Love's game, this can be said with assurance: The two best players in Wolves history will share the court tonight.

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Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42)

Photo: Chuck Burton, Associated Press

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Friday, one night only, Target Center: See the Timberwolves' past meet their present.

It's the Kevin and Kevin Show.

The Wolves, still clinging to their playoff hopes, face Boston, a veteran team that has heated up as this compressed season has worn down. The Celtics' Kevin Garnett, the best player in Wolves' history, is facing Kevin Love, who keeps staking out bigger and bigger parts of the franchise's record book.

Love is the present and the future, Garnett keeps talking about the past.

Garnett shot a salvo Wednesday, after he helped the Celtics down the red-hot Utah Jazz. Asked about going to play in Minnesota, he told reporters in Boston: "It's always special to come back to true fans and your foundation. But as far as that franchise, I have nothing positive to say. So I'll just let it be that. I think Kevin Love's playing at a high level. I think he's rejuvenated the city as far as basketball goes. Other than that, nothing else."

Oh, but there is so much more.

Especially when you consider the run Love is on. His 40-point performance Wednesday at Charlotte was his third of the month. In 15 March games he has scored 469 points (31.3 per game) with 211 rebounds (14.1). It is the second-most-productive month in the past 15 years in the NBA, behind Shaquille O'Neal's 499 points (29.4) and 218 rebounds (12.8) in 17 games in March 2001. And Love is one more big game away from reversing that order.

Garnett, 35 and in his fifth season away from Minnesota, is the 23rd-leading scorer (24,054 points) in professional basketball history. He isn't scoring as he used to (15.6 points per game vs. his career best of 24.2 in 2003-04), but the Celtics are making a push, and his game is part of it.

But Love isn't interested in drawing comparisons. Not yet, anyway.

"He was Da Kid," Love said after Wednesday's game. "He was someone I looked up to as a player, when I was a little kid. He put in so much work. And, as far as playing both ends of the floor? He was the best. He was MVP. Shoot, he took this team to a Western Conference finals. So, I think, until I do something like that, then maybe we can start ... not comparing, necessarily, because we're two totally different players. But maybe our team will have similar success."

They have different styles and different supporting casts. Veteran Brad Miller is Love's teammate and he played extensively against Garnett. "He still has some things to do," Miller said of Love. "I mean, [Garnett] became an all-defensive player, first team. So there's that. But scoring and rebounding? I think [Love] has that pretty well figured out."

Garnett is a splendid passer while Love has come to demand the ball at crunch time. He already has equaled Garnett with four 40-point games in a Wolves uniform, and his three this season are one short of Kobe Bryant's league high.

During the telecast of Wednesday's game, Fox Sports North's Jim Petersen compared the two.

"I watched Garnett play his whole career," Petersen said. "I watched Kevin Love play his whole career. And to me what Kevin Love is doing right now is more impressive than what I saw Kevin Garnett do. I just wish Kevin Love had some pieces around him that are equally as good as what [Garnett] does."

In time, perhaps.

The Wolves have had to deal with the loss of Ricky Rubio for the season and for J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic for chunks of it. Still, heading into Thursday, the Wolves were only 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Celtics, with their aging stars, were tied with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division after winning seven of their last 10 games.

After the victory over Utah, Garnett took a shot at folks calling him old. "I'm motivated," he said to reporters. "I hear y'all calling me old. I hear y'all calling me ... older. Weathered. I'm motivated; it don't take much to motivate me."

So it will be two Kevins in different places on the court Friday. Two Kevins who dominate the Wolves record book.

"It's good company to be in," Love said. "[Garnett] is a Hall of Fame player, one of the best to ever do it. I know he's in the latter part of his career. But he's still a great player. I think guys look up to him. Him, [Tim] Duncan, those guys, that generation? Top notch."

  • WOLVES VS. BOSTON • 7 p.m. today • Target Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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