By Kendell Sweeney-Thomas
The Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17) hit the ground running after the All-Star with four straight road games against five of the best bigs in the league. Marcin Gortat of the Phoenix Suns ranks fifth among Love’s pending frontcourt opponents on my list and he’s been averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds in his last three games before the break. His other foes include All-Star teammates Andrew Bynum and Blake Griffin along with two All-Star reserve near-misses in Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. And this will be played in the span of five nights. Love’s 3-point percentage is just below his career average, but he’s coming off a victory in the 3-point contest on Saturday so confidence must be high.
Love has only collided with the Los Angeles teams so far this season, beating the Clippers in L.A. and losing to the Lakers in Minnesota. His four opponents had better watch out, though, because his assists per game increase on the road. Keep an eye out for Love to steal some of Rubio’s fire when it comes to passing the ball this upcoming week.
Kevin Love’s 2011-2012 statistics: 39.9 MPG, 25.0 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 44.6 FG%, 34.8 3PT%, 83.3 FT%, 0.5 BPG
Interesting Stat Line: Love is shooting 43 percent of his field goals within the first 10 seconds of shot clock and also shooting 57 percent on those shots, which is his highest percentage. He’s been getting to the rim early and often with rookie teammate Ricky Rubio pushing the pace and getting the ball into his playmakers hands.
Love’s first matchup, Blake Griffin, had this to say about Love’s game: “He’s having an unbelievable year, now I guess in his fourth year. He’s somebody I have to compete with, and it’s great for me because he’s obviously a really well-rounded player. It’s fun – it’s a battle every time we play.”
Upcoming games: 2/28 @LAC (20-11), 2/29 @LAL (20-14), 3/1 @PHX (14-20), 3/3 @POR(18-16)