MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With a former post player for a head coach and talent worthy of the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, Kevin Love can’t take it easy. Kurt Rambis won’t let him.
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Even another productive game for Minnesota since returning from a broken left hand, Love found Rambis hard to please.
Love had 20 points and 16 rebounds, his fifth straight double-double, for the Timberwolves in a 112-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
“I have to keep getting in shape, keep getting those rebounds, and keep getting easy buckets,” Love said.
Emphasis on the first part.
At one point, Rambis noticed Love lagging behind in transition and yelled his displeasure.
“Do you want me to crash the offensive boards or do you want me to get back on defense?” an exasperated and exhausted Love replied.
Both, came the answer from the coach.
“When you get in shape, you’ll be able to do that,” Rambis said.
Corey Brewer scored 20 points on 9 for 16 shooting, coming within two points of his career high and giving the Wolves (5-22) a presence on the perimeter. They were in front from start to finish for the first time this season, taking advantage of a sloppy, sluggish regression by the Kings, who fell to an NBA-worst 1-11 on the road.
“We weren’t playing hard defense. We were going through the motions,” rookie Tyreke Evans said. “We just shot terrible.
The Kings beat Minnesota in Sacramento by 20 points last Saturday.
“I think our team for the first time started not pulling together with the same intensity that we’ve been playing with all year,” coach Paul Westphal said. “I don’t know if we’re tired. I don’t know if we’re believing all the good things people are saying about us. We just had a bad game, but we’re young.”
Evans, one of only four NBA players currently averaging better than 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, had only 10 points on a 4 for 12 shooting night. That was his lowest scoring total since a 3-point game against Memphis on Nov. 2. Evans has reached double digits in all but three games this season.
“He looked a little worn down,” Westphal said. “He’s got a knee that’s bothering him a little bit, and I’m sure that slowed him down. I thought their defense was pretty good.”
The Kings, despite missing star Kevin Martin and occasional starter Francisco Garcia to injuries, have been one of the league’s mild surprises while starting two rookies and two second-year guys for the last two games.
Omri Casspi had 21 points and Beno Udrih had 12 of his 18 points in the final 4 minutes of the third quarter for the Kings, who were held under 100 points for only the third time in the last 15 games. They let the Wolves match their season high in scoring and shot a woeful 4 for 27 from 3-point range.
After a 25-point home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that prompted the mellow Rambis to bemoan an “abysmal” effort, the Wolves won for the first time in seven games this season when they led at halftime.
Jonny Flynn – whom the Wolves wanted to pair in the backcourt with Evans, assuming the Kings would draft Ricky Rubio instead – picked up two early fouls and sat for most of the first half but finished with 12 points.
Love has 73 rebounds in his last five games, giving the Wolves a rugged, bullish presence on the glass they sorely missed while he was out. He shot 9 for 14 and helped Minnesota gain a 58-46 advantage on points in the paint with Al Jefferson chipping in 16.
“He looks real good,” Jefferson said of his post partner.
Brewer, who had two powerful dunks off fast breaks, and Love were behind most of the highlights. Brewer threw a bounce pass inside to Love, who turned and was fouled on a layup for a three-point play and 71-57 edge in the third quarter. Brewer whirled and pumped his arm in celebration.
The Wolves were just as happy with Brewer’s game.
“We obviously need some outside shooting for our team to be able to be productive,” Rambis said. “The nights he’s able to knock down outside shots it just adds a whole other element to our offense.”
NOTES: Timberwolves F Ryan Gomes missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle that is expected to keep him out for at least another week, the first time he’s had to sit out in three seasons with Minnesota. He said he’s getting better, running, jumping and sprinting but still unable to properly cut and plant. … A couple of Casspi fans stood and waved Israel’s flag each time the rookie scored. Casspi is the first NBA player born in Israel.