Jazz 108, Wolves 98: Blank Slate
The Wolves first nationally televised matchup in ages furthered a few story lines and revised a couple others. Kevin Love is indeed that good, Ricky Rubio is clearly ready for prime time, we aren’t pushovers anymore and maybe Darko isn’t such a bum after all. Of course we already knew this, but it was important that everyone else did too. Whatever degree of relevancy we’d attained through a bevy of highlights this season crept closer towards legitimacy with Friday’s win.
Which also brings expectations. However, they aren’t so lofty that we can’t see the truth. This was a winnable game. But it was also the fourth in five nights and it showed.
Kevin Love’s post game is progressing. He looked surprisingly comfortable with dropsteps and stepthroughs against the Clippers and even wiggled his way up and under early this evening. Though he remains undersized and earthbound, Love is slowly becoming crafty enough to maneuver the block against bigger defenders. Problem is, our young man has seemingly delayed this development and abandoned a reliable midrange game to cement his reputation as a sharpshooter.
Love is the league’s fifth leading scorer, a remarkable feat considering his aforementioned limitations. Even as his name is plainly posted below Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony with 24PPG, it’s still hard to believe. Yet perhaps more notable-and discouraging-is that he takes more three pointers than all of them. In fact, his 82 attempts this season are also amongst the league’s top ten. This is entirely too much.
Far be it from opponents to discourage him though. Especially if he’s not hurting them. Yes, he calmly sunk the one that counted Friday night, but respectfully, they all count and his percentage is sinking too. After a hot start, Love is shooting just 37% from the field in his last ten games. In order to remain effective, he has to use his entire repertoire.
Which brings us back to the original point. This was the Wolves fourth game in five nights and the second of back to back road games. Kevin was tired, as anyone would be. But when Kevin gets tired, he becomes predictable. A deeper look into the numbers reveals that on zero days rest, Love attempts even more threes per game (6.0) and makes considerably less (28%). So as he sluggishly trailed breaks and curled around screens this evening, there was no mystery how things would turn out: 7 attempts from long range and only one made the mark. 5-21 in a ten point loss.
Our pups have played six games with no rest this season and there are plenty more on the horizon with this truncated schedule. A few more off nights are to be expected. However, at the risk of callously conjuring up any talk of bootstrap pulling, this is a problem the entire league has to deal with.
Here’s hoping he figures it out.