Timberwolves show a lot of Love against Knicks
By Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange
NEW YORK -- Spike Lee is arguably the New York Knicks' most famous fan, but even he marveled at Kevin Love's performance on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Love registered his third double-double in as many games to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 109-100 win over the Knicks. Late in the game, he received a high-five from the actor-director sitting courtside.
The 6-foot-10 power forward had 34 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves (3-0). Kevin Martin contributed 30 points for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves are off to a 3-0 start for just the second time in the 25-year history of the franchise. The first came in the 2001-02 season.
Carmelo Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer last season, topped the Knicks with 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic posted his second double-double of the young season and 44th of his career with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Love, who entered the game ranked third in the league in scoring (27.5 ppg) and second in rebounding (14.5), missed 62 games last season because of a right hand injury. In his absence, Minnesota struggled to a disappointing 31-51 record.
After the Knicks made two fourth-quarter runs to get back in the game after trailing by as many 23 points in the third quarter, Love banked a shot to give Minnesota a 106-98 edge with 3:19 to go, prompting Lee to stand up and high-five Love as he was heading back down the court.
"I know where he sits and he saw me coming, so I kind of just reached out looking for some dap," Love said of his encounter with Lee. "He was right there and just shook his head. It was one of those moments, Lee, MSG (Madison Square Garden) against the Knicks, I just saw the opportunity and took it."
Before that basket, Martin drained one of his five 3-pointers and added a free throw thanks to a technical foul on Pablo Prigioni.
Iman Shumpert's wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner pulled the Knicks to 100-98 with 4:45 left. New York had used an 8-2 run to close to 97-92 with 6:27 left.
The Knicks made a move late in the third quarter with a mini five-point run but still trailed 93-78.
Corey Brewer's jumper with 7:38 left in the third quarter gave the Timberwolves a 23-point cushion at 76-53.
Anthony picked up his third foul with 9:28 left in the third quarter and the Knicks trailing 71-53.
"During the second, third and fourth quarters, we played pretty good basketball," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "You just can't come out in your homecourt and dig a hole like we did tonight.
"A lot of it was on turnovers. It's tough to swallow, especially when you come into the game holding your first two opponents to about 80 points a game."
The Knicks had 16 turnovers.
The Timberwolves used crisp ball movement to create open looks en route to a 64-49 first-half lead. Point guards Ricky Rubio and Jose Juan Barea combined for 11 of the Timberwolves' 14 first-half assists.
"We know that we can score, but we have a lot of players who can do it," said Rubio, who had 10 of Minnesota's 23 assists. "When we share the ball, we get a better opportunity to shoot."
Love keyed the first quarter with 13 points, including converting four free throws after he was fouled beyond the arc and then shoved after the shot by Kenyon Martin for a technical. That started a 17-4 run that gave Minnesota a 40-19 first-quarter cushion.
The Knicks turned the ball over six times in the first quarter and shot just 30.4 percent (7 of 23) from the field.
Meta World Peace provided the Knicks' offense a spark off the bench, scoring 17 points in 20 minutes.
NOTES: The Timberwolves' 64 first-half points were a season high. ... Minnesota reserve C Ronny Turiaf is sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a radial head fracture in his right elbow on Friday night against Oklahoma City. ... Rubio ranks second in the NBA in assists (10.5 per game) and steals (4.0). ... Anthony has averaged 31.6 points in his last five home games against the Timberwolves. ... A moment of silence was observed before the game for the passing of Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy, who played for the Knicks in the mid-1960s.