By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - Shaquille ONeal has seen hundreds of players come and go through the NBA during his career. And then there are those to stand out to him.
Kevin Love can add his name to that list.
In only his third season in the league, Love has made a strong impression.
"Hes a great rebounder," said ONeal. "Thats what I expected -- hes been doing that all year. He did it in college. Hes a great rebounder. Guys like him only come around once every 10 years."
ONeal wasnt the only player praising Love following the Boston Celtics 96-93 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Love posted 24 rebounds and 12 points in 44 minutes, recording his league-leading 30th double-double of the season.
He easily surpassed the most rebounds grabbed against the Celtics this season - 16 by Reggie Evans of the Toronto Raptors on November 21, 2010.
During the second half, Loves 19 rebounds tied the entire Celtics team combined. The Timberwolves out-rebounded the Cs, 45-30.
It was a Love fest, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. No, no, no, I mean, Loves terrific. Hes tenacious. It hurt having Baby (Glen Davis) in foul trouble (five personal fouls) obviously because we wanted his big body on Loves big body. But, hell, I think he had 10 in the first quarter, if Im not mistaken. He gets a ton of them.
The five offensive rebounds are the ones to me that stood out more. The defensive rebounds, someones going to get the defensive rebounds. Those arent a big deal to me. But the offensive rebounds are the ones that he hurts you on.
Like Rivers and ONeal, veteran Ray Allen was also impressed by the abilities of the 22 year old. Allen could only name a handful of players who positioned themselves for rebounds as well as Love does.
I believe he has a knack for keeping his body in motion around he basket, Allen said. Hes got long arms and hes strong. Hes built like refrigerator so you cant really move him from one side to the next. Hes getting his hands on balls. And I think other guys have tendencies, you kind of look up and watch and see what the balls doing. Hes getting right to that spot and hes moving you out.
So positioning you can see with him is real key, and the last few guys that Ive seen like that - Jayson Williams, when he was with New Jersey, you just knew he was getting that rebound. And we havent had a guy like that in the NBA in a long time. Ben Wallace, you could throw his name in the pot and obviously Dennis Rodman, the best Ive ever seen do it just in the eras Ive played.
Allen believes that Love has developed such a rhythm at the basket that the ball is just kind of finding him.
Thats talent, he said. Thats I dont know what you want to call it, but he has it.
On Monday night, it was simply called dominating the boards.
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