Wolves notes: Kevin Durant sensed fresh edge to Kevin Love in summer
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MINNEAPOLIS -- There has been a renewed edge to Kevin Love since he arrived back in Minnesota for training camp one month ago.
One year earlier, a seemingly never-ending injury battle resulted in a lost season not just for Love, but also for the Timberwolves. From that, an intense determination to overshadow the bitter memories of that season with a return to his All-Star form set in.
Love has already shown true signs of doing just that. A clutch overtime-forcing 3-pointer to top off a 31-point, 17-rebound outburst in the Wolves' season-opening victory against Orlando Wednesday sent a forceful statement.
The revitalization Love has undergone was a process close friend Kevin Durant sensed first-hand as the pair worked out throughout the summer in a Los Angeles gym.
"He just wanted to play," Durant said. "I could tell he was anxious to get back. I'm glad he's on the court. It's always tough playing against him, but as a guy who likes Kevin as a person I'm glad he's back playing the game he loves. He's playing well."
Love and Durant didn't have to wait long for their first showdown this season, with the Wolves playing host to the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night.
Whether it's from Love, former teammate Kevin Martin or another of the Wolves' potential offensive weapons, Durant, usually one to speak highly of Minnesota, is expecting the Thunder to be in a back-and-forth bout Friday.
"Ever since I got into the league every game against the Wolves has been either a great game or a blowout, either them blowing us out or us beating them pretty bad," Durant said Friday morning after the Thunder finished shootaround at the Target Center. "There's something about this team against us. I don't know what it is."
Some of those past games may have been close, but Oklahoma City has usually come away with the desired result. The Thunder have won 14 of the last 16 meetings between the two squads, with the two losses both coming last year in a split of the season series.
Dealing with Durant
With Russell Westbrook still recovering from a setback with his injured knee, the focus of Oklahoma City's offense currently revolves even more around Durant.
Durant has embraced the challenge. He dropped 42 points on the Utah Jazz Wednesday, with 22-of-24 mark from the free throw line, to help the Thunder preserve an opening night win.
For a team that is trying to address tendencies to come up flat defensively, Durant poses extremely dangerous threat to the Wolves.
"You do what you can. You're not going to stop him," coach Rick Adelman said. "All you can do is make him work and you have to make him take as many tough shots as you can. If you give him 24 free throws you're going to be in a whole lot of trouble."
Playing time on the wing
Adelman is sticking with his opening day lineup, slotting Corey back into the starting small forward spot. Once again, how Adelman handles the rotation on the wing will be an area to watch.