Yet between my own offerings and the ensuing responses, I think we collectively forgot a potent, one-word answer: Inspiration.
The Timberwolves weren't televised at home vs. the Knicks last Friday night, yet for those in attendance we viewed a possessed, 31-point, 31-rebound performance from Kevin Love that both fueled a 'Wolves 21-point comeback and provided an oft-flat Target Center atmosphere with raw electricity as the team provided fans just the 23rd home win since the 2008 season.[jump]
Perhaps for the first time in years, there were actual "moments" at Target Center as Love became the first player since Moses Malone back in 1982 to complete the 30/30 feat: there was the 'Wolves bench tracking Love's ascending board total from the vid screens about the arena; there was Love raising his arms to the Target Center crowd as the team roared back; there was the vast representation of military members -- the day after Veteran's Day -- watching Love pay homage to their warrior-dom; there was Michael Beasley and Love in the locker room -- all 43 combined years of them -- post-game clowning like two giddy kids, offering some sense of tandem chemistry and hope for a bunch that hasn't cracked .500 since the 2004-05 season.
It's fitting that Love donned the 'Wolves cover version of the Marvel Comics/ESPN series of NBA superheroes last month. Segueing from a solid, if abbreviated performance at the FIBA World Championship to close out the summer, Love opened the week leading in the NBA in rebounding at a clip of 14.8 per game. Although he claimed the third-fewest minutes for USA's championship team (8.9 per), Love charted second in boards (4.9) for that team and led them in rebounding for the first two wins of their eventual 9-0 run, grabbing 10 apiece versus Croatia and Slovenia. His 40-minute rebounds per game average from the tournament concluded at a ridiculous 22.9.
Entering Monday, there had been 33 NBA instances of a player grabbing 16 or more rebounds in a game; Kevin Love owned five of them. His 31 board night along with his 24 rebound performance from earlier last week serve as the top two efforts of the season, and although the 'Wolves modest, two-game win streak concluded Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, Love added 17 more boards to his '10 resume. On Monday night, Love corralled 9 more rebs in the Timberwolves 113-110 bummer loss to Charlotte. He went down with what appeared a leg injury late in the game, but eventually returned.
Love's 31 rebound performance from Friday serves as the most in a game since Charles Barkley grabbed 33 boards for Houston in November of 1996. Should Love be able to keep up the seasonal 14.8 clip, that would serve as the league's highest rebound average since Detroit's Ben Wallace charted 15.42 in 2002-03 and would be the NBA's third-highest since Dennis Rodman averaged 15.01 per back in 1997-98. If Love ultimately grabs the NBA board title, he'd be the second Wolf to accomplish the feat. Kevin Garnett led the league four years running (2003-07) with a top clip of 13.89 ('03) during that run.
With a slew of microphones in his face, a horde of messages on his phone and a glazed smile on his mug -- Kevin Love turned to the nearby locker of Beasley after Friday's win and the two playfully jabbed over superhero identities. At 3-9, this bunch is still far away from donning any playoff capes, but Love's inspired night put the 'Wolves on the nation's radar for the first night in a long damn time.
To answer my own question from last week: Beasley can no doubt ball, but there's now a cemented reason, win or lose, to get to Target Center this winter.
And they call him Mr. Glass.