Love battling shooting slump

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2012 - 6:51 AM

After hitting 47 percent of his shots in the Timberwolves' first eight games, Kevin Love has hit a bit of a shooting slump.

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Timberwolves forward Kevin Love battled Chicago’s Joakim Noah for the ball during the first half Tuesday’s game at Target Center. Love had his second tough shooting night in a row in the loss to the Bulls.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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After hitting 47 percent of his shots in the Timberwolves' first eight games, Kevin Love has hit a bit of a shooting slump.

Against Chicago on Tuesday, Love appeared to have a typically productive night, scoring 20 points with 13 rebounds. But he needed 18 shots to get there, hitting just five of them. The night before, in Toronto, Love hit on just three of 16 shots. He has shot 8-for-34 (23.5 percent) the past two games.

And much of the problem is coming from inside the three-point line. Love connected on five of 12 three-pointers the past two games, but was only 3-for-22 (13.6 percent) on two-point attempts.

"It's just tough, it's early in the season," said Love, who has had a few shots blocked of late, a problem that plagued him earlier in his career. "It's only our 10th game yet. I just need to slow down around the rim and those shots will fall for me."

Love refused to blame the workload that comes with a condensed schedule as a reason for his shooting problems. Nor did he express much concern about them. He started relatively slowly last season as well.

''I've got too good of a shot from outside, too good from 15, 17 feet not to shoot those," he said.

Ridnour solid

It remains to be seen if Wolves coach Rick Adelman adjusts his starting lineup in the wake of Tuesday's game, when the Wolves fell behind by 24 points before a group of mainly reserves, with Ricky Rubio leading the way, pushed the team back into the game.

But Luke Ridnour figures to be comfortable no matter what. Ridnour has been the starting point guard the first 10 games, with Rubio coming off the bench. But what has been interesting is how often -- and how well -- Ridnour and Rubio have played together on the court.

"When you have multiple guys out there to handle the ball, it makes it tougher for the other team to prepare for," Ridnour said.

Ridnour said having Rubio on the court has allowed him more room to find his shots. It shows. Ridnour has scored in double figures in seven of the Wolves' 10 games. He is shooting 53.9 percent overall and 13-for-34 (38.2 percent) from three-point range. His turnovers per game are down from last year and his 12.3 scoring average is a career-best.

Randolph revival

Another bright spot from Tuesday's loss was the play off the bench by Anthony Randolph. He was part of the smaller lineup Adelman inserted into the game that helped the Wolves rally in the second quarter. Randolph played 29 minutes, made six of 10 shots, got to the free throw line seven times and scored 18 points.

"I thought Anthony was very good," Adelman said. "He was very active defensively for us, too. I think he's finding his way. I was really pleased."

Randolph is another player who seems to be finding chemistry with Rubio. Randolph was on the receiving end of several Rubio passes, including a lob for a dunk late in the second quarter.

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