OAKLAND, CALIF. – Timberwolves three-time All-Star Kevin Love has scored 43 or more points five times in his six-year NBA career, every single one from them away from Target Center.
He reached 43 points precisely once again for the third time Sunday at Sacramento, then nearly matched it again during Monday night’s 130-120 loss at Golden State.
The Wolves, by the way, are 0-5 in those five games.
“That’s a weird stat,” Love said. “That’s a real weird stat.”
Love didn’t quite reach that threshold at Oracle Arena, also finishing just shy of a triple-double with 40 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Still, he scored enough to surpass Kevin Garnett for the franchise single-season scoring record by four points, with 1,991.
Love scored 22 points and had eight rebounds in the first quarter alone but then made only two of his next nine shots.
“It was a back-to-back,” he said when told he was on an 88-point, 32-rebound pace at that point. “I was thinking 80, but I wasn’t feeling 80 with my body.”
The Wolves shot 55 percent but couldn’t prevent playoff-bound Golden State from posting its 50th victory of the season, the first time the Warriors have won that many since Chris Webber’s rookie season in 1994.
Nor could they stop Stephen Curry from delivering a third consecutive 30-point game for the first time in his career. He had 32 points and 15 assists.
Leading 52-31 early in the second quarter, the Wolves allowed the Warriors a 23-4 run that changed the game and pushed them all the way to a 102-94 lead a minute into the fourth quarter. The Wolves pulled within a basket at 111-109 with 5:32 left but never got any closer after Golden State scored the next six points.
“They’re the type of team it doesn’t matter how much you’re up,” Love said. “You can be up 20, 30 points and they go on a big run with their shooters and how fast they play.”
Love approached his fourth triple-double of the season — and his career. Warriors reserve forward Draymond Green made a career-high four three-pointers and scored 20 points.
So, to recap: Love followed Sunday’s 43-point game by scoring 40 points Monday, and the Wolves lost both games. They are 3-7 when Love scores 40 or more, including that 0-5 when he scores 43 or more.
Just how weird is that 0-5 stat? The Wolves are 1-0 when Corey Brewer scores that many.
“Yeah, man,” Brewer said, smiling, “get me the ball.”
On Sunday, it was another example of Love not trying to do too much but rather needing to do so much. They needed each and every one of those 43 points just keep pace with the Kings, eventual winners 106-103 on a night when Brewer followed Friday’s club record-tying 51 points by scoring 10 and guards Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea combined to shoot 2-for-23.
Together, those three guards scored just seven points. Five of those came from Barea, who made the only two field goals from the group. The other two came on free throws by Martin, who was limited to 18 minutes in his first game from a foot injury because coach Rick Adelman thought he struggled to move well on that foot and lacked rhythm with his shot.
Martin said before Monday’s game that he feels fine and he was back in the starting lineup with Rubio after he went 0-for-8 at Sacramento. Rubio went 0-for-4 and Barea was 2-for-11.
That is the challenge the Wolves have faced all season, one they must address going into summer and toward a new season next fall. Next season very well could be Love’s last in Minnesota if the team doesn’t fit more productive players around him, either by developing those players they already have or finding better ones through the draft, trades or free-agent signings.
“This year especially, we’ve been inconsistent with that,” Adelman said, referring to putting enough help around his team’s star. “Some of it is Pek [center Nikola Pekovic] being out. I’ll take his 43 points tonight, though, and see if we can’t get somebody else involved. It’s consistency. We just haven’t been consistent.”
Love will play for the United States this summer at the FIBA World Cup in Spain, two years after he played for his country in the London Olympics. The last time, Love remarked how he looked around and saw teammates everywhere who routinely make the playoffs while he hadn’t yet been there.
Two years later and nothing has changed in that regard.
“It’s hard when you don’t get support for him,” Adelman said. “When you get support for him, he’s a much different player because he’s willing to find people. But when you’re not making baskets, when you’re missing everything, it becomes tough.”
That 0-5 record when Love scores 43 points or more might indeed be a real weird stat, but Adelman said it’s a case of Love having to do too much rather than trying to do too much.
“You get down to the end of the game, it’s my job to get a basket and I’m probably going to go to him,” Adelman said. “He’s going to have opportunities, especially in the fourth quarter.”