Patrick Reusse: Who's the fairest Kevin of all? Um, answer is on the scoreboard

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2012 - 8:39 AM

Kevin Love's talent is unquestioned, but Kevin Garnett showed the value of defense -- and of not getting him riled.

Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett had similar statistics, but the scoreboard showed Boston scored 21 more points than the Wolves on Friday night.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, ALL

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The debate before Friday night's game at Target Center was whether Kevin Garnett in his prime or Kevin Love as a 23-year-old stats monster was the best player in Timberwolves history.

Garnett still has enough pals to be aware that this conversation was taking place in the Twin Cities dailies and on sports talk radio.

Anyone raising this issue did no favors to Love. Tom Hanneman, the Wolves' TV play-by-play announcer, said he was told by his Boston peers that they had not seen Garnett so fired up before a game in a couple of years.

That's not a surprise to anyone who watched Garnett in his 12 seasons in Minnesota. If we learned anything, it was that any hint of disrespect turned KG from merely a fierce competitor to an uncaged lion.

And during the 34 minutes of hell that Garnett brought to the Target Center court, he changed the parameters of the debate to this: Who is the best power forward in the NBA today -- Love at 23, with all those numbers, or Garnett at 35, who remains aware that a big effort on defense can be as decisive as saving your energy to play offense?

Love finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Garnett finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. So, if you have a rose-colored view of Love, you could declare the matchup to have been a draw.

There would be one more requirement to take such a stance: that you didn't watch the game.

The score was 100-79 for Boston, the largest margin of defeat in the Wolves' 28 losses this season. Garnett went 12-for-18 from the field, compared to Love's 5-for-18.

Garnett went face up on Love from the start, turned him over to Brandon Bass or Greg Stiemsma on occasion, but always came back to Love when necessary to grab and push for defensive position. Any Wolves fan complaining about that has not watched Love grab and push all season to get into offensive position.

The shorthanded Wolves, Love included, basically gave up in the fourth quarter, being outscored 21-12. The coaches declared full-scale garbage time when both Love and Garnett left with 89 seconds remaining.

Later, more than a dozen reporters waited for Garnett to appear at his locker in the visitors locker room. When he showed, Garnett talked in low tones but with a few barbs if you listened close enough.

"I thought our defense was good ... solid," KG said. "You know, Kevin Love is really good, very solid ... very, very offensive-minded. He knows we've been watching him, keeping track of all his accolades."

Asked about the Wolves' fourth-quarter fadeaway, Garnett said: "It's a situation where I know Kevin don't really play a lot of defense, but he does get a lot of rebounds and a lot of threes.

"I felt like I had an advantage and I took it ... wasn't nothing more than that. [Rajon] Rondo called my number a couple of times, and I know this building very well, and I'm very comfortable in this building.

"So, you know, I sort of reverted back to 2004."

Garnett drew a few laughs from the Minnesota media with that reference -- to the season when he was the MVP and took the Wolves to the Western Conference finals.

He was asked about the reaction from the Target Center crowd -- mostly cheers -- and KG said: "My time is past. It's Kevin Love's time now. I totally understand that. I'm grateful for the applause of the fans and very appreciative of the Twin Cities."

Love is as much the face of the franchise today as Garnett was for those eight playoff seasons from 1997 through 2004. But on Friday night, Love paid the price for the rush of the new Wolves audience to declare him to be the team's best Kevin ever.

"[Garnett] came in here with an extra edge," Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver said. "From the very beginning, defensively, he was all over K-Love.

"The coaches and K-Love were trying to get the referees to call something. He was holding and grabbing, but that's a veteran. He knows what he can get away with and what he can't. KG did a great job.

"He knows what to do, how to win. He looked like his old self tonight."

What Minnesotans learned again on this night in Target Center was this: You never want to take on Kevin Garnett after he's been poked with a stick.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 16 4th Qtr 11:47
Pittsburgh 24
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 93 4th Qtr 2:57
San Antonio 97
Memphis 99 4th Qtr 1:40
Dallas 106
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 6:17
Edmonton 1
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close