NEW ORLEANS – Timberwolves star Kevin Love’s night ended nearly before it started in the NBA’s All-Star Saturday three-point contest.
The 2012 champion who didn’t defend his title last year because of his twice-broken shooting hand, Love shot first out of eight participants. He was finished nearly right away in a reformatted contest when he scored 16 points of a possible 34 and Portland’s Damian Lillard went next and surpassed him. That knocked Love out of the contest in which one West player and one East player advanced to the final.
He hardly had a chance to warm up, and it was all over.
“I was saying in the locker room that I didn’t want to shoot first,” said Love, who did so because of alphabetical order by city and because West team captain Stephen Curry was chosen to shoot last for his conference. “The whole time, I said, ‘Don’t put me first, don’t put me first, don’t put me first.’ What do I do? I look up there and the West is shooting first and I’m shooting first.”
San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli advanced from the four West shooters, and he defeated Washington’s Bradley Beal in the final round while Love and the other participants looked on.
“That’s what makes it fun,” Love said, referring to the camaraderie among All-Star participants. “My first time, it was a lot of fun. The second time was just as fun. Well, I shouldn’t say just as fun. I didn’t walk out with the trophy or the win. Still, I got in there and enjoyed myself. That’s what All-Star weekend is all about.”
Love won the event his first time around, beating Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant in a third-round final two years ago. On Saturday, he never found his shooting rhythm in an appearance that lasted just 60 seconds.
He didn’t participate last year because of that shooting hand he broke not once but twice within three months. He went to Houston for the first couple of days of All-Star week to fulfill appearance obligations but flew home to Portland and purposely didn’t watch Sunday night’s All-Star Game.
“It hurt too bad,” Love said when asked why he didn’t watch.
Now it’s on to Sunday’s All-Star Game, in which Love will start for the Western Conference for the first time after fans worldwide voted him in.
When he played in his first All-Star Game in Orlando in 2011, Love said such games were not made for a rebounding throwback player such as himself. His game and his stature in the league have grown significantly since, but he still believes it is a showcase made for skilled players on the wing.
“These games are mostly for point guards and guys who are more volume shooters,” Love said. “I’ll throw some outlet passes for dunks, get my rebounds, be able to shoot the three-ball, maybe get something relatively close to a highlight dunk and that probably will be it.”