In six NBA seasons, three of them as an All-Star, Kevin Love had come close.
Close, as they say, but no cigar.
Saturday night, the Jazz might as well have brought him Cubans.
The Minnesota Timberwolves forward hardly needed to step on the court in the fourth quarter of a 121-104 blowout win at EnergySolutions Arena to record his first-ever triple-double, racking up 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on the night.
“It shows … through my first six years in the league how my game has progressed,” Love said of the accomplishment.
Added T-Wolves coach Rick Adelman, “Kevin Love was unbelievable.”
With starting center Nikola Pekovic and guard Kevin Martin injured — nearly 40 points a night gone from the Minnesota roster — the Wolves leaned heavily on Love, especially early in the second half.
“The first six minutes of the third quarter,” Adelman said, “we wanted to have the first burst.”
Love was that burst, scoring 22 points in the period and hitting on five of his seven attempts from 3.
“He really realizes now that he can go out there and not have that many points and in a four-minute span just explode,” Adelman said.
“To get a triple-double in three quarters, that’s pretty darn good,” the coach added, though it took slightly longer than that. Love played 3:17 in the final period, launching a full-court pass to teammate Corey Brewer for his 10th and final assist.
“My parents never let me play football, so that’s my way of kind of being quarterback out there,” Love said afterward.
The Jazz expected Love to look for teammates in transition. “Love is tremendous at getting the ball out quick and throwing the advance pass,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said.
But the effort didn’t translate on the floor.
“Tonight, they didn’t do a fantastic job of getting back,” Love said. “I was bale to hit Corey on a lot of outlets and some different guys on three-on-twos, two-on-one situations.”