Lakers forward Lamar Odom takes Timberwolves’ Kevin Love out of the game
Remember the 23-point, 24-rebound performance Minnesota forward Kevin Love put on the Lakers at Staples Center only 11 days ago?
Remember the 11 offensive rebounds Love collected against the Lakers in that game?
Well, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson did and he made sure Lamar Odom remembered it.
Love was Odom’s assignment that night, an assignment at which Odom failed.
Odom got his revenge Friday night at the Target Center, holding Love to seven rebounds, two offensive.
Odom held Love scoreless, forcing the former UCLA star into missing all seven of his shots.
“Well, Lamar was embarrassed because of the last performance,” Jackson said. “I told Lamar after the (Nov. 9) game, ‘I know why Love made the USA team now. He got to practice against you every day.’ So Lamar took it to heart.”
Jackson laughed at taking a shot at Odom.
Odom smiled when told of Jackson’s comments.
Odom and Love were teammates on the USA team that won the gold medal at the FIBA World Basketball Championship in Istanbul, Turkey, last summer.
“I think we enjoyed competing against each other because we did it so much this summer,” Odom said. “It seems like all the guys that were on the team are having good years.
“I just wanted to come out and compete against somebody you consider a friend. We’ve got something that we’ll all never forget, a world championship gold medal.”
Part of Odom’s problem in the first game was foul trouble.
He finished that Nov. 9 game with five fouls.
In the 112-95 win over Minnesota on Friday night, Odom had two fouls.
He wanted to be on the court so he could play Love.
“He’s so good, he’s so persistent going for the ball,” Odom said. “He probably tired me out a little bit. I didn’t have my legs on my shot. He does a good job staying around the basket, making you be aware of him.
“I just tried to front him as much as possible when the ball goes up so he doesn’t get any easy offensive rebounds. That kind of gets him going offensively.”
On this night, Odom still had enough to score 11 points, grab eight rebounds, make seven assists and block four shots.
As for Love, he seemed to apologize to the entire state of Minnesota.
He didn’t grab his first offensive rebound until there was 6:21 left in the third quarter. He got his second offensive rebound a few seconds after that.
“Lamar came in and played very well,” Love said. “I was very frustrated and I tried not to let it get to me. But when you’re having a night like that, you just keep telling yourself, ‘Come on, let’s go, let’s go.'… I feel even worse for my teammates because I put them through that too.”
At 6-10, Love is an undersized power forward.
He’s not a gifted athlete, nor a great leaper.
So what makes him so successful on the backboards?
“He fouls and gets away with it a lot,” Jackson deadpanned before the game. “He jumps into guys’ backs. But he’s there. He’s there, he’s pursing it. He’s got a reputation now and they are giving him some latitude. But you’ve got to give him that for determination and effort.”
Jackson talked about great rebounders of the past, such as Paul Silas of the Boston Celtics and Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls.
Not that Jackson was ready to compare Love to them just yet, but the third-year forward has made people take notice.
Entering the game, Love was leading the NBA in rebounding, averaging 14.3 per game. He was first in defensive rebounds (9.4) and offensive rebounds (4.9).
“Kevin just couldn’t find a rhythm on either end of the floor tonight, and that happens,” Minnesota Coach Kurt Rambis said. “It is not unusual or out of the norm. He just has to pick himself up and bring his energy and effort the next ballgame.”
Love is beginning to set new standards in rebounding. Or in some eyes, Love is setting old standards.
He had one of the rarest of rare double-doubles against the New York Knicks last week, scoring 31 points while collecting a Timberwolves team-record 31 rebounds.
Love became only the 19th player in NBA history to produce a 30-point, 30-rebound game and the first player to accomplish the feat since Moses Malone of the Philadelphia 76ers had 38 points and 32 rebounds in November 1982.
“He’s a tremendously smart player,” Odom said. “He understands the game. I just wanted to keep him off the boards as much as possible.”