This past weekend, Kevin Love represented the Minnesota Timberwolves in New Orleans for the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend. On Saturday, Love competed in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest in an attempt to take home a second title. The following evening, Love scored 13 points in his first All-Star game as a starter. Despite Love’s and his team’s effort, the West came up on the losing side of the 163-155 final score.
Foot Locker Three-Point Contest (Saturday, Feb 15)
Although the league’s top three-point shooters tend to be guards, the 6’10” Love breaks the trend as a long-ball-shooting power forward. In 2012, Love won the Footlocker Three-Point Contest after an intense shootout with Kevin Durant. Following that contest two years ago, NBA’s Shaun Powell wrote the following:
“Love is the strangest of power forwards–someone who can change a game either in the paint or beyond the arc. Someone who rebounds with abandon but also has the touch of a diamond-cutter from deep.”
This year, Love hoped to take back the title. Prior to the contest, No. 42 told Timberwolves web editor Mark Remme that the one thing he didn’t want was to shoot first. “I jinxed myself,” said Love when he found himself called on to lead off the event. Love scored 16 points in the contest, but it proved insufficient to move past the first round.
Remme explains how this year’s competition looked different in a few ways. The East and West were grouped individually, and the first-round leader from each conference advanced to the championship. Another adjustment was how the ball racks and money balls were arranged. Four racks had four regular balls with one money ball, while one rack—placed in any of the five spots around the arc that the shooter wants—had five money balls. All money balls were worth two points, while regular balls were worth one.
Unfortunately for Love, he couldn’t wrack up those bonus points.
After the first round, San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli advanced over Love with 19 points, and Washington’s Bradley Beal moved on with 21. Each player scored 19 apiece in the finals, spurring a tie-breaker. In the end, Belinelli walked away with 24 points and the 2014 title.
“My first time, it was a lot of fun,” Love said. “Second time, just as fun. Well, I shouldn’t say just as fun—I didn’t walk away with the trophy or a win. But I still got in there and enjoyed myself, that’s what it’s all about.”
2014 NBA All-Star Game
The NBA All-Star game was, as always, a battle of the offenses. Flawless passes, full-court lobs, and high point totals highlighted Smoothie King Center on Sunday evening. This year’s starting lineups were as follows:
|F||Kevin Durant (OKC)||Paul George (IND)|
|F||Blake Griffin (LAC)||Carmelo Anthony (NYK)|
|C||Kevin Love (MIN)||LeBron James (MIA)|
|G||James Harden (HOU)||Dwayne Wade (MIA)|
|G||Stephen Curry (GS)||Kyrie Irving (WAS)|
Irving led the East with 31 points, while Durant and Griffin each added 38 points for the West. Love tallied 13 points (including two three-point buckets) and nine rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor.
“It was great to be part of it,” Love said. “It was a lot of fun—my first time starting in the game and also my first time finishing.”
Although the Western Conference teams hold overall better records and seem to consistently be the better of the two conferences, it was the East that delivered a stronger performance in the All-Star game. It can be expected that most players don’t take the All-Star game too seriously — after all, no one wants to suffer an injury in such a contest. However, there was definitely an edge of competition Sunday evening. “We wanted this win,” James said post game. “They beat us the last three years and they had a lot of bragging rights, so to be able to come through being down 18 was huge.”
“We took this [game] personal a bit,” Irving added.
Irving shot an incredible 82.4 percent en route to his final numbers of 31 points, five rebounds and 14 assists. Not surprisingly, the Washington guard took home the 2014 All-Star MVP honors.
True to tradition, the game exchanged leads a few times throughout the first three quarters. The score even remained close during most of the fourth quarter. In the end, however, the East proved the stronger shooters. Overall, the East shot 60.9 percent from the field (to the West’s 51 percent), 31.8 percent from behind the three-point line, and 100 percent from the charity stripe. Only 17 free throws were attempted cumulatively, as the All-Star defense was true to form: barely present.
Love noticeably enjoyed his court time with fellow All-Stars—both teammates and opponents. At one point, Love and Irving shared a playful elbow bump on the court; the moment reflected a friendship the two have undoubtedly formed after starring together off the court in Pepsi MAX’s Uncle Drew series last season.
“Kyrie played awesome tonight,” Love said post game. “It was a well-deserving MVP, and there are a lot of guys that put on a show tonight. I think the fans got their money’s worth.”
This year’s All-Star performance was flashy in more ways than just the slam dunks and full-court passes. True to New Orleans’ fashion, all the players donned colorful socks and tennis shoes that reflected a Mardi Gras atmosphere. The Western team wore red and purple socks, the Eastern team wore blue and green socks, and all the jerseys featured the city’s well-recognized fleur-de-lis.
The evening had no shortage of music, either. The rosters and starting lineups were introduced through a concert by Pharrell Williams. The show also featured artists Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Snoop Dogg.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Love. “Hopefully I’ll be back in New York next year and enjoying the festivities again.”
Following the first quarter, former NBA All-Star Magic Johnson encouraged the other All-Star players to join him in singing “Happy Birthday” to Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who turned 80 on Sunday.