MINNEAPOLIS -- Lamar Odom can say something that not many of
his peers in the NBA can these days.
Odom dominated Love in their last meeting, holding his United
States teammate scoreless with just seven rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-95 victory over the Wolves on Nov. 19.
Since that game, Love has 46 straight double-doubles. That's the
longest streak in the NBA since Moses Malone had 51 in a row over
the course of two seasons from 1978-79 to 1979-80.
The two grew close while helping win a gold medal at the world
championships in Turkey last summer. Now Love, who leads the NBA
with 15.5 rebounds per game and averages 21 points in what has been
a break-out season, finally gets a shot at redemption when the
Timberwolves host the Lakers on Tuesday night.
"It's the way the ball bounces sometimes," Odom said
nonchalantly on Monday after practice. "He's having a great season
and playing well. I'm happy to see him playing well. He's a great
The 6-foot-10 Odom has the lateral quickness of a shooting
guard, the length of a power forward and the muscle of a center,
making him a matchup nightmare for most players in the league,
particularly the shorter, slower Love.
Love had 23 points and 24 rebounds against Odom in a narrow loss
at Staples Center on Nov. 9, and some chiding from Lakers coach
Phil Jackson had Odom motivated when they returned to town 10 days
later. From the opening tip, Odom controlled the action, pushing
Love out further away from the basket and out-jumping him for loose
He had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, a typically
well-rounded box score for one of the most versatile players in the
"Sometimes when you're in that rebounding mode, the ball just
bounces to you," Odom said. "You're missing your shot, you're
able to follow it up. That's just the way it went that night. That
night I was able to focus on keeping him off the offensive glass
and that helped."
Love was despondent after the game.
"That was probably the most poor game of my career," Love said
then. "I apologize to my teammates, coaches, everybody. I can't
have a game like that."
He responded convincingly, putting together a historic string of
double-doubles that was too much for commissioner David Stern to
ignore. He has had at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game
four times this season, the latest coming in a 37-point, 23-rebound
performance in a win over the Warriors on Sunday. If he finishes
the season at this pace, he would have the highest rebounding
average since Dennis Rodman (16.1) in 1996-97.
Jackson, for one, wondered how Love got the bid over Aldridge
while playing for the worst team in the Western Conference. When
asked about Love on Monday, Jackson said simply, "He gets a lot of
"He's a guy that really goes after rebounds, gets all the
missed free throws and the ones at the end of quarters," Jackson
said. "He gets a lot of numbers. It's quite significant."
Jackson's words were dripping with some of that trademark
sarcasm, but he did compare Love's relentless style to a former
teammate, Jerry Lucas.
"[Lucas had] 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. So he was a guy
that was a great number player," Jackson said. "But the end
result is what you look at. You want to look at how that
contributes to wins. Yesterday he certainly did."
The Timberwolves (14-46) are tied with Sacramento for fewest
victories in the West. Only Cleveland (11-48) has lost more games.
Jackson also implied that Love remained in the game longer on
occasion to make sure he got the numbers to keep the streak going.
He pointed to two recent games against Memphis -- Love had 10 points
and 10 rebounds in a loss to the Grizzlies on Feb. 2 and 15 points
and 11 boards in a loss on Feb. 23 -- for examples.
"It looked like [Grizzlies forward Zach] Randolph was making a
special effort to say, 'This isn't going to happen on my watch,"'
Odom said that wasn't the case for him.
"The short time that we shared together and the camaraderie
that was built and winning that medal that a lot of people didn't
think we were going to be able to win forever bonded us," Odom
said. "Whether you're watching a guy or playing against him, you
want to play well against a guy like that. And you wish him well,