He never bought a house, never even bought a winter coat. But it was Al Jefferson whom G.M. David Kahn jettisoned to the Jazz, to make room for Love. He still played only 24 minutes in the opener, learning to savor every second because there were so few. The Timberwolves never had a problem with Love's rebounding, but coaches viewed him as the big man's equivalent to Rajon Rondo, transcendent in one area and developing in others. Rambis wants the monster out all the time—on defensive rotations, fast breaks, pick-and-rolls—and not just when the ball is in the air. "We're hard on him," Rambis says, "because we see what he is capable of."
Love is much more than the second coming of Ben Wallace. He blends a soft touch—he recently hit eight straight three-pointers—with methodical post moves copied from those old Superstars videos. He is averaging more than 20 points and 15 rebounds, which no one has done for a season since Malone led the 76ers to the 1983 championship. Of course, the Timberwolves are not winning the title. They are 6--18, yet Love has made them relevant, along with the primal art of rebounding. Even Brian Wilson has taken notice, calling Stan excitedly when he sees Wolves highlights.
After Love put up 25 points and 18 rebounds in a loss in San Antonio earlier this month, Spurs forward Antonio McDyess left the locker room uttering a familiar refrain: "He's not that tall. He's not that athletic. He just outworks everybody." Meanwhile, Love walked slowly to the team bus, lamenting the latest fourth-quarter lead that slipped away. He had another game in Minnesota the next night, another chance to do what he does better than anyone in a long time.
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