Tuesday after Timberwolves practice, Kevin Love
began prepping in earnest. ¶ Racks of basketballs were brought in, a trio of Wolves assistant coaches along with consultant Brad Miller took their places on the court. And the work began.
This is a pretty big deal. Love, who will be making his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance later this month, will be making his debut in the three-point shooting competition as well. He will be the first Timberwolves player to take part.
And Love said he plans on being a factor.
"I always like my chances," Love said. "I like my chances in any competition, except maybe the slam dunk. But they didn't invite me to that."
The contest, held the day before the big game, has contestants trying to make as many three-pointers as they can in one minute. Five racks of balls -- each with five balls -- is placed at different positions along the three-point arc, from one corner to the other, and the player moves from one to the next. The first four balls in each rack are worth one point, the final one -- the "money ball'' -- is worth two. So the best score possible in any round is 30.
This resulted in some pretty good entertainment Tuesday, because there weren't enough racks or basketballs to set up five positions. So, as Love shot, folks ran around grabbing the balls and setting up stations along the route.
Here is how Love fared, with assistants T.R. Dunn, Jack Sikma and Terry Porter watching: Love scored 16 points, then 19, 18, 12, and finally, a pretty impressive 21. As Love was finishing off that last round, Miller cracked, "So you're saying there's a chance?"
Well, of course.
Asked to handicap the competition, Love mentioned Ryan Anderson (the Orlando forward who, incidentally, hit three three-pointers in a victory over Minnesota on Monday), Anthony Morrow (New Jersey) and Ray Allen (Boston) as potential favorites.
"I'm just going to kick back and be a dark horse in the competition," he said.
Perhaps the extra practice will bear fruit for Love in games as well. Love hit 41.7 percent of his three-pointers last season. But he's hitting at a 36.1-percent clip this season and has made just three of 20 attempts over the past eight games.
But it certainly looked like he was finding a rhythm as he worked Tuesday. And it should only get better.
"We didn't have the right racks," he said. "But we'll get 'em."
Incidentally, after Love finished, Porter -- who competed in the contest three times in his playing career -- went out and did a circuit, posting 18 points.