Love finds no love from Celtics defense

Love finds no love from Celtics defense
December 17, 2013, 12:30 am
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BOSTON — When watching Kevin Love on TV or video, the man is an impressive talent.

Seeing him up close?

Even better.

But as good as Love is, his play - at least on Monday night - wasn't good enough as the Boston Celtics came away with a 101-97 win over the Timberwolves.

Love had a very Love-ly kind of game with 27 points and 14 rebounds, both game highs.

But the Celtics' defenders made him into a high-volume shooter, forcing him to take 26 shots (nine of which he made) in order to net 27 points.

"Obviously Kevin Love's in that elite group of guys that you really respect from the outside looking in," said Boston head coach Brad Stevens. "And when you get in the middle of it you respect him even more because he can do so many things."

While Boston's defense certainly played a role in Love's struggles shooting the ball on Monday, Minnesota being on a back-to-back and the fatigue factor that often comes with that, may have also contributed to his less-than-stellar performance.

"It's just a disappointing loss," said Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman. "We had every chance to win that game; couldn't make a lay-up, couldn't make a shot, for our starters it really was a struggle. We just missed too many opportunities that were right there for us."

Love had similar comments following the loss which prevented Minnesota (12-13) from going above-.500 for the first time since Nov. 23 when they were 8-7.

When asked if he felt they let Monday's game get away from them, Love replied, "Oh big time, big time. We beat that team a majority of the time we play them. Like they say, (bleep) happens."

He added, "I thought every shot I was taking was going to go in but it seemed like everyone was hitting the front rim and out. That was the story of the game."

That's partially true.

Another story line of the game at least when it relates to Love, was the fact that Boston's primary defender on him was Brandon Bass who was limited to less than 14 minutes because of foul trouble.

That left Stevens with no choice but to play Kris Humphries who has been in and out of the rotation all season, and rookie Kelly Olynyk who is making his way back from an ankle sprain that kept him out for 10 games.

"I thought Humphries did a phenomenal job off the bench for us on both ends of the floor, but certainly in guarding and defending Kevin Love," Stevens said. "He did as well as he could, and I certainly was very happy with that and I was very happy with how we guarded him on the last couple of out-of-bounds plays because obviously we thought that he was the go-to for three in those situations."

Said Humphries: "They go to him a lot. Not only does he go to the offensive glass every time. He' shooting 3s, he's posting up ... he's the main part of their offense. That's a difficult task."

And that doesn't even factor in the damage he can cause with his rebounding, something Stevens attributes to his much-improved conditioning since coming into the NBA.

"Kevin Love in transition, or on a broken play, is an unbelievable rebounder," Stevens said. "And it has to be sense, it has to be effort, and then it has to be the commitment he has made to make his body the best that it can be. He's one of the most highly conditioned big guys we'll play against all year. He presented a big problem."