Kevin McHale really likes Kevin Love

Kevin McHale sees the rebounding ability, the basketball instincts and the unceasing effort and can’t believe Kevin Love is only a rookie.

“He’s so far advanced for a 20-year-old it’s ridiculous,” the Minnesota Timberwolves coach said of Love, the former UCLA center who is in the midst of his best month in the NBA.

Love, an NBA forward listed at 6 feet 10, is averaging 11.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in January following Minnesota’s 94-86 victory Monday over the Clippers at Staples Center.


Though Love couldn’t match those numbers against the Clippers -- he had six points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes -- he showed flashes of why he’s becoming one of Minnesota’s top reserves.

There was a trademark two-handed outlet pass, a one-handed layup while having his other arm tugged on by the Clippers’ Steve Novak and, perhaps most telling of his effort, a sequence in which he missed a dunk and two follow shots but never gave up on the play.

“It’s just confidence and finding myself out there,” Love, who is averaging 8.4 points and 8.3 rebounds for the season, said when asked what had triggered his recent uptick in production. ". . . Working hard in practice and getting in the weight room. That confidence really helps me.”

McHale said he envisioned Love becoming a “better-rebounding Mehmet Okur-type guy,” a reference to the Utah Jazz center, an All-Star in 2007.

“When he blends his instincts with the knowledge of the NBA game . . . that’s when he’s really going to take off,” McHale said.


The Clippers signed guard Fred Jones to a second 10-day contract. He is averaging 6.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 22.3 minutes in 10 games with the team.