Amar'e Stoudemire had a scheduled night off, so at least he had an excuse. It's hard to say what happened to the rest of the Knicks when it came to containing Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.
No one could stop Love early as he helped lead the Timberwolves to a 20-point first-quarter lead that they parlayed into a 109-100 win.
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With 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the first half, the 6-10, 260-pound Love showed fans at Madison Square Garden why he should be considered among the best, and definitely the most versatile, big men in the league. He finished with 34 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
"Great player. He's a tough matchup," Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. "I thought he played great tonight. He played within himself, took good shots, got a couple of three-point plays."
The Knicks rallied to make it a two-point game in the fourth quarter but weren't able to complete the comeback. Knicks coach Mike Woodson said they just dug themselves too big a hole in the first quarter.
"It's tough to swallow, especially when you come into the game holding your first two opponents to about 82 points a game," Woodson said. "This team is well-balanced, with Love anchoring everything. I thought [Kevin] Martin had his way as well. You can't let two guys come in our arena and get 30 points. That can't happen."
But it did as Martin had 30 points and shot 5-for-5 from three-point range.
Love, who broke his right hand twice last season, seems bent on making some noise and reclaiming his position as one of the most dominant big men in the game.
It was the third straight big game for Love. In a season-opening win over the Magic, he hit a three with 10.1 seconds left to send the game into overtime and had 31 points and 17 rebounds. He followed that with a 24-point, 12-rebound effort in a win over the Thunder.
The Love-Fest continued at the Garden as he awed spectators with his jaw-dropping outlet passes, outran most of the Knicks defenders, stepped up his defense and even hit two three-pointers.
"He's a load. I mean, he can play outside and he can post the ball, and he's a hell of a rebounder,'' Woodson said before the game. "He does a lot of good things for their ballclub at that position."