Love Gets Call This Time, But Same Result


VIDEO: Durant takes over in the fourth to lead Oklahoma City

There is no truth whatsoever to the rumor that the NBA’s league office issued the following statement following the late foul call near the end of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 115-111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night at the Target Center:

NEW YORK, Jan. 5, 2014 — Through postgame video review, we have determined that Minnesota’s Kevin Love was, in fact, not fouled on his 3-point attempt with 2.2 seconds left and his team trailing 113-111. After all, when Love missed the first two free throws and even intentionally missed the third, the result was no different than if his 3-pointer had bounced off and been grabbed by Oklahoma City.

Oh, and that review-and-reversal from Monday night? We take that back too.

If Timberwolves fans want to find a sliver of silver lining in the Thunder loss Saturday, they might reconsider how badly – or not – their favorite team got jobbed when Shawn Marion‘s swipe at Love’s 2-pointer in the closing seconds Dec. 30 against Dallas. Yes, the NBA admitted, Marion did foul Love on his right arm and Love should have shot two free throws with one second left, giving him a chance to tie at 100-98.

But who’s to say the Wolves’ power forward would have made both, or even one? The surreal moment Saturday when Love shot and missed three times with a chance to tie or win against OKC suggests he might have come up short – or flat, as his attempts Saturday looked – against the Mavericks as well. There’s at least a little more doubt now that Love and Minnesota automatically would have forced overtime.

Then again, even if Love had bricked one or both against Dallas Monday, the officiating crew getting the call right would have provided him with recent familiarity for what he wound up facing Saturday. And to a man, the Minnesota club seemed quite comfortable with him getting yet another chance. “I’ll take K-Love in that situation no matter what,” Corey Brewer said. “he missed them tonight. Next time he’ll make them.”

Love’s confidence hasn’t been rattled, that’s for sure, as noted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

“Just missed them,” said Love, who missed four consecutive free throws in the final 27 seconds. “I’ll put me on the free-throw line every single time. First time in my career in a situation like that where I’ve missed four straight. I’m an 80-85 percent free-throw shooter. Tonight it didn’t fall.

“I’m sure people will say what they have to say. That’s fine. In this league, you come back. You try to fight the next day.”

Said Wolves coach Rick Adelman: “It’s just one of those things. It happens to the best of players.”

The finish obscured the overall quality of the contest, particularly Kevin Durant‘s monster scoring performance: 48 points on 16-of-32 shooting with 23 points in the final quarter of a game in which he logged 42:51 minutes. Love scored 30 with 14 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 31 and 11, and OKC rookie Steven Adams had 10 and 9 off the bench in 15:32.

Oh, and lest anyone objects by saying Love’s final miss Saturday was intentional, know this: Yeah, it was intentional. But missing the rim entirely was not intentional. If the idea is to put the ball on the rim so that it rolls or bounces off to set up a tip-in or buzzer-beater, then banging the ball off the glass without touching the rim qualifies as a miss in our books here at HTB headquarters.

Frankly, if the analytics smart set wants to track something new, I’d love to see the numbers when NBA players are actually trying to miss their free throws intentionally. This is purely anecdotal, but a high percentage sure seem to miss the rim entirely via airball or glass-only – or inadvertently put them in. It’s such a contrary act compared to all their training and practice.

A final irony of Love’s late misses was how they contributed to a telling deficit at the foul line. Minnesota had been outscoring opponents by 8.7 points per game on free throws, the biggest gap since at least 1970-71. The Wolves were running a bigger surplus than the 1981-82 Denver Nuggets (7.8) or the 1985-86 Philadelphia 76ers (7.1).

So what does OKC do? Outscores Minnesota 27-18 from the line Saturday, including 10-3 in the fourth quarter. When a foe takes away one of your greatest strengths – Durant shot 12-of-13 and the rest of the Thunder who toed the line were perfect – you’re in for a long night.

Love’s free-throw adventure at the end just made it feel a little longer.

22 Comments

  1. lbj says:

    Kevin love come to da heat we wills trade them all star PF shayne battyay aand da aging dwyane wade. We will have da besst lineup in da nba like dis:

    PG) mario cgaalmers
    SG) ray ray allen
    SF) kevin love
    PF) da king lebron james
    C) chriss boash

  2. patrickmarc says:

    Free throw is a tough shot to do, specialy at the end, with four seconds left. Dirk knows about that,
    all great players know about it, how much concentration they need when muscles are tired.

  3. dustydreamnz says:

    I think him and LaMarcus Aldridge are the top two power forwards at the moment.

  4. J4CK Nicholson says:

    Bad things sometimes happens to goof players/teams, and he’s no exception. For as long as he can bounce back since this is just the regular season, he’ll be alright. A player like Pau Gasol will bolster the frontline and familiarity with Rubio will hopefully do wonders for the team.

  5. gab says:

    The calls against the wolves down the stretch has killed them especially last night against the thunder. The refs called 3 crucial plays against them,1. offensive foul on pek, 2. Durant’s flop, and lastly, 3. Durant’s push on brewer. Even though Love miss those 3 free throws, He still got my respect as the best PF in the league right now and we also have to accept that even great players can come up short.

  6. Robert Craig says:

    Not sure what the beef is or is not with Love’s game-but a guy that big that can stick the three and rebound like this day in and day out is certainly entitled to miss some free throws-I’ve seen Ray Allen do it and this was for a stretch of games in a playoff series (with Boston). He at this point is a top five player in the NBA and doing a better job than Blake Griffin at this particular time. He seems to understand where to be when rebounding and I think this skill is a skill that some players learn as kids and for those that don’t, well once you miss that lesson you can never go back and learn it. And talking about him leaving Minnesota-maybe he likes it there and although he is on a team that might need help we have all seen teams get one or two guys and it off the the playoffs they go. Think the Jordan bulls before Pippin and Grant.

  7. George says:

    Can we atleast compare Love to other PF’s in the game and not a SF. Lebron is great, but stop comparing everyone to him like the way he plays basketball is just SO superior. Everyone has a different style and team to play beside. In my opinion Love needs to leave the T’Wolves to somewhere more suitable.. This article is pointless.

  8. Anonymous says:

    K-Love just pulled a D Wade!!

  9. chop says:

    love isn’t a leader, he is the Ricky Davis (20 ppg) before Lebron got there of the T Wolves….he is a good 2nd scorer.

  10. okc2014 says:

    Why would Kevin Love intentionally miss that 3rd free throw? I’m not understanding that at all. This player is clearly frustrated. He is a very good player on a not so good team. Unlike Lebron James, he doesn’t appear to be ready, or MVP caliber yet, someone who elevates all of his teammates to be the best they can be. He often has an attitude and does not always show good sportsmanship. I also think he’s unhappy in Minnesota (for whatever reason). I bet he’s outta there after this season and frankly I don’t blame the guy. Minnesota may not be the best fit for Kevin Love. He’s good and deserves to be on a better team if you ask me.

    • ChinUpKLove says:

      He intentionally missed the 3rd free throw in hope that it would come off the rim and into the hands of another Twolves player, so they’d have a last second shot to tie the game. But he still probably should’ve attempted to make the 3rd free throw, then get a super-quick foul on OKC and still have a shot at a game tying/winning basket. But with only 2.2 seconds left, and after missing the first 2 free throws, you can only imagine what was going through his mind, and probably wasn’t thinking straight.

      But he is a star, and he’ll learn from his mistakes.

  11. sirsparhawk says:

    Lol an exhausted man who tried hard to carry them missed 4 free throws, should they talk about the 4+ 3 pointers he hit? How about the 14 boards he grabbed? Love needs to get the hell off the wolves, they are the real problem.

  12. Chase says:

    Lol @ comparing Durant’s supposed under-ratedness to Love’s. Would the Thunder be in the same place without KD “stepping up” every night? Of course not. They’d still have a better team than the Wolves, though.

  13. George Turner says:

    It’s times like this that get me mad that Kevin Durant don’t get the praises that he deserves to be at the top of the MVP race. If he doesn’t step up every night OKC wouldn’t be where they at

  14. squala96 says:

    It’s totally unfair if Love is condemned for missing four straight free throws and losing the game in the process. He carried the Wolves by himself so many times when he could have easily teamed up with another superstar elsewhere to form a proper contender. They’re lucky to still have him in the roster despite all that. He is a lot more than Blake Griffin and deserves much better.

  15. Eaham says:

    Man I feel for the timberwolves. Kevin love works hard and Pekovic is a good partner in crime when it comes to their frontcourt; but Rubio needs to be more consistent and be more of a threat offensively. Their wing is horrible, benhc is even worse, they need more consistent players.

  16. EFE says:

    Of course Love failed but before that event referees didn’t want to see how Durant pushed Brewer under a crazy-jumping Lamb. They prefered to punish Brewer for being in the wrong place in the wrong moment. Great… It was shameful.

  17. Rahseed Wallace says:

    Ball don’t lie!

  18. Russell Eastbrook says:

    Love lost his powers cuz he shaved his beard

  19. Angel Rodriguez says:

    You sir are undeniably stupid. You just want to make articles for the f of it. That is cool.