It never fails. A guy gets a bunch of hubbub around him, defenders start playing tougher, nastier, they’re more attentive. Suddenly that guy doesn’t seem as good. His shine’s worn off. He’s mortal. It happened with George Bronski, Cleevis Hush, Hooper Weintraub and now it’s happening to Kevin Love. You don’t remember those first three players? Exactly. Defenders started defending and their lights went out. Don’t worry. Wipe the vapors away from your brow. Love is getting defended more, bodied up and double-teamed more often, it happens when your team is awful, your sidekick is hurt (Beasley) and your other sidekicks (can one have multiple sidekicks? Sure. Back in 2006, I had three T-Mobile Sidekicks. One for my parents to call me on. One for my bros and one for just chicks. The one for my parents was the only one that ever rang.) Anyway, sidekicks like Wes Johnson and Jonny Flynn are a step away from useless), all of which has reflected in Love’s stats. After averaging 20.5/15.5 through January, Love’s stuck in an 18.1/14.3 valley. That this is the guy’s valley speaks volumes about his value, but I’m sure a few of you are nearing some sort of ledge about his dip, wondering if it’s a mirage. The ledge is only three feet off the ground? Lame. If I was full of bull hockey like Reggie Miller was last Thursday, I’d say that Kevin Love has abstractly improved the game of basketball because he forces the other team to play good ol’ fashioned fundamental defense. I don’t think that, and if I did you would be right to point out that that good ol’ fashioned fundamental defense still allows Love to average 18/14 even in his darkest period. Just remember that on this, the day after Valentine’s Day, that Love conquers all, or at least keeps that awesome double-double streak alive.
Here’s what else happened on Valentine’s Day in the NBA:
Martell Webster – Returned to drop 17/5 on the Blazers, after stringing together a couple floating sick days and missing the last 10 days.
Nazr Mohammed – 16/3/2, with a block in exactly 24 minutes. Nazr time! Garbage time. If I knew how to look up the number of times a sub-.500 team’s third-string players played more than 10 minutes against the Lakers in a blowout win, I’d … well, I’d look up that stat, I guess.
Gerald Henderson -Scored 18 points for the second time this season. Should you pick him up? I’ll put it this way, LaMarcus Aldridge has scored 18 points three times in the last 48 hours.
Kwame Brown – 8/8 on exactly .500 shooting in exactly 24 minutes. Meh. Nazzie Bear was better. But before you go running to your waiver wire to drop Kwame for Nazr, I need you to stop, sit in the nearest chair, breath in through your nose, out through you mouth, realize your team is swayed by the output of either Kwame Brown or Nazr Mohammed and start preparing for fantasy baseball season, because, brother, this just ain’t your year.
Boris Diaw – NO ONE BENCHES BORIS FOR BEING SLEEPY! He sank three treys on his way to 16 points in 23 minutes. When you sweat butter, it’s hard for opponents to guard you. Because you’re slippery. And delicious.
Brook Lopez - 11/10, with three blocks. Honest question, dear reader, what surprises you more this season? A Brook Lopez double-double or a Rajon Rondo triple-double. I ask because they’ve both occurred the same number of times this season.
Anthony Morrow – 3-for-10 from the field last night. Morrow’s shooting .345 in his last five games. Allow me to … ahem … sing his praises, despite his recent woes. Ahem … His shot will come baaaack / To Morrow / Bet your bottom dollar / That for Morroooooow / There’ll be some … practice jumpers.
Al Horford - Played his second game back (unintentional pun!) after returning from an injured … you guessed it. Anyway, he went 16/10 on Saturday and 10/4/5 on a restful Monday. You know what they say, you don’t get sore the day afterward, but the day after that.
Ersan Ilyasova - Snare Yo Saliva, got his eye snared last night and left the game sans return. No word yet on his status. Eyesnare Ilyasova was his mother’s second choice.
John Salmons - Scored 16 points and doled out 12 assists. He didn’t shoot well, but you’ll take it, especially if this is the start of something. And I’ve been saying all season that something usually starts for this guy right about now.
Garrett Temple – Usually when I see his name it’s written Temple, Garrett and I misread it as Temple Grandin. All the time. So in my mind, Garrett Temple is an autistic doctor who understands horses. That’s all. Nothing else to say about him, really. Do you feel cheated? Fine. Here’s a picture of Minka Kelly. There. Even Steven.
D.J. Augustin – Was rumored to be sitting out this game, ended up starting it, but also split time equally with Shaun Livingston in the first half. In the end, it was better to own Augustin than Livingston both last night (7/9 and 9/4 respectively) and going forward, but like your distant Parisian cousin visiting from out of town who keeps complimenting your girlfriend – you better keep an eye on this situation.
Greg Monroe – 4/4, with a block. He’s averaging one fewer rebound this month as compared to last month, but he’s also averaging a half-assist more per game. That’s called learning. You’d be wise to remember this come the offseason.