Kevin Love isn’t the best big man in the league, and he might not even be the best power forward. His numbers tell a slightly different story, and after scoring 51 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, enough to push the Western conference leaders to a double overtime, 149-140 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who can argue?
Love is huge in March. Life without Ricky Rubio isn’t great for the Timberwolves, slowly drifting away from the 8th spot in the postseason, but Love is going in a different direction. Averaging 30.9 points and 13.3 rebounds, but the Timberwolves keep on losing. He did more than anyone though possible, playing as Center against the Thunder, but it wasn’t enough.
Love went wild from the outside, hitting 7 three pointers, beating his UCLA teammate, Russell Westbrook, in the individual battle. Westbrook also contributed a career high in the game, leading the Thunder in scoring with 45 points. Kevin Durant had 40 points and 17 rebounds, funnily the least impressive stat line of the game. James Harden dropped 25, and that was the difference. For the Thunder, who have been losing ground in the home court advantage when they glance over to the Eastern conference, needed a win bad.
They’ve lost 5 this month alone, falling to 36-12, behind Miami and Chicago. Life is harder out West. Too many good team, as those battling for a spot in the playoff know too well. Even their home court isn’t as impregnable as it used to be. The problem for the Thunder is how good can their trio of scorers going to be each night in the postseason. Do they actually need these guys to score over 80 points combined each night?
With Rubio gone, the Wolves remind us of last season. Kevin Love playing in his own kind of zone and league in terms of stats and production, while the rest pick up the scraps. Rubio made this group into a team, but the cohesion is gone, and all of Love’s impressive work goes to waste. Like last season, when it was all promise but no substance.
Love, at this moment, is averaging 26.2 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 38.1% from the outside. Maybe it’s his defense, as you expect him to dominate in the paint on both ends. Maybe it’s his love to play on the perimeter instead of fighting for position all day long down below. But then he wouldn’t be as special. One thing’s for sure – Love isn’t the Timberwolves’ problem. Someone to glue the pieces around him together is more urgently needed.