It was a rather taciturn Kevin Love who talked with the media after this morning’s pre-game shoot.
The answers were clipped, the information was rather scarce. Two days after he called out teammates J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham for not leaving the Wolves bench to join their teammates during time outs down the stretch of Wednesday’s one-point loss to Phoenix, Love said chemistry on the team was good.
“We’ve been on the same page,” he said. “Everything that happened is now internal. We’ve moved on from it. And we have a big game tonight.”
That was about all Love was willing to say about his post-game comments, which revived national speculation about Love’s relationship with the Wolves organization and his future within it.
Barea, meanwhile, echoed some of the same sentiment he expressed a week ago after Love questioned the production from the team’s bench. It wasn’t the message, but how it was delivered.
“A little disappointing, you know?’’ Barea said. “I wish Kevin would’ve just came up to me, face-to-face, man-to-man, and said it. But it’s no big deal. We’re over it. We’ve got to play as a team and stay together as a team, so we’re done with that. We talked, and it’s not really a big deal for me. I just want to win games.’’
Barea admitted he was miffed at being pulled out of the game earlier in the fourth quarter Wednesday a bit earlier than usual. When he’s mad, he said, he likes to go down to the end of the bench and cool down for a little bit. “That’s just me,” he said. “If I don’t get mad, it’s not gonna be me.’’
That said, Barea said he should have joined the team during the timeouts. “I think it looks a little bad that we were at the end of the bench,” he said. “But it’s something that we’ve got to get better at. I think it won’t happen again.”
Cunningham declined comment.
Love did say the frustration has mounted as the Wolves have struggled to win close games; the Wolves are 0-10 in games decided by four points or less. But the fact is, the perception has been created that there is a problem in the team’s locker room.
Love, though, shrugged off such a notion.
“We just need to continue to be ourselves,” he said. “Like I said, keep it internal. We all like each other. And we had a great time at shootaround today. And we have to be ready to go at 7 o’clock tonight.”
As for his team’s late-game struggles?
“We just need to start trusting each other, start getting in different pick and roll situations, getting into different looks,” Love said. “Just run our offense. I felt we got a good shot late game there (Wednesday). We just have to, hopefully, turn it around.”
And there is plenty of time to do it, Love said. “We still have a number of games left,” he said. “We’re past the first trimester (of the season). We just need to knock out as many (wins) as we can before the All Star break and give ourselves a chance.’’
Love said he needs to continue to strive to be a team leader, but said the role shouldn’t fall solely on him, mentioning center Nikola Pekovic and guard Ricky Rubio. “It takes a whole team,” Love said.
Barea, meanwhile, acknowledged Love’s leadership position. “He’s an All Star on this team, so he’s got to be the leader,” Barea said. “He’s got to be a voice, and everybody’s got to follow the All Star. He’s doing a better job this year. Hopefully he’ll keep it going.”