The Minnesota Timberwolves are supposed to be in contention in a tough Western Conference, but after falling to the Suns on Wednesday night, 104-103, after a last-second Gerald Green jumper â€” they’re currently at the No. 10 spot in the West, two and a half games behind Dallas for the eighth seed and four and a half games behind the surprising Suns. Perhaps that’s why Kevin Love took the opportunity in his post-game comments to grouse about his teammates.
Here’s Green’s game-winner, if you haven’t watched it already:
Despite the exciting way Phoenix came back to win on Green’s jumper, it was Love’s post-game comments that became the story. Here are the highlights from what he told the Associated Press after the game:
“We can’t have two guys sitting at the end of the bench that play good minutes just sitting there and not getting up during timeouts,” Love said, referring to the poor body language exhibited by veterans J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham in the fourth quarter. “We all need to be in this together. That kind of (ticks) me off. We’re supposed to be a team.”
“It’s two guys that we expect more from them,” Love said. “I think they expect more from themselves. I’m not trying to single anybody out and I don’t want to make it bigger than it is, but it’s just a team that we needed to beat tonight and we needed everybody in there, even guys that didn’t play any minutes. We need to have a team and a bench that’s really in it together.”
“Those two guys, if and when I did that last year when maybe I didn’t sit out (behind the bench) for the game for all 48 minutes and so on and so forth, they would have killed me,” Love said. “They would’ve aired me out. That’s tough.”
It should be noted last night’s loss to the Suns featured one of Love’s worst games in a season where he’s third in in the league in PPG, second in RPG and third in PER (player efficiency rating). Perhaps his frustration at his inability to find the bottom of the bucket boiled over, but both Barea and Cunningham were gone when Love made his comments.
Ricky Rubio, who was asked about Love’s comments after the game, was a little more conciliatory, but preached the need for team:
“Everybody has to believe,” point guard Ricky Rubio said. “Of course somebody maybe is frustrated because he didn’t have the minutes that he wanted or he’s not in the game in late situations. But something happened, and no matter what, it’s coach’s decision. You have to be with the team.
“I didn’t see that. But if he says he saw something, we would have to talk because that’s even worse than losing the game. Not having the team together, that’s terrible. We have to be a team and believe in ourselves.”
But Love reiterated what a lot of analysts have said about this Minney team: they fall apart down the stretch. Love is well aware of their inability to close out close games, and concluded his post-game diatribe by reminding us all there is still plenty of time left in this season.
“There’s still a lot of time,” Love said. “We need to win games like this. That makes us 0-10 now in games decided by four points or less. So something’s got to give and if we continue to keep working hard and have continuity and stick together, we’re going to be all OK.”
We’re not even in the month of February, so this is no time to panic, but with Rubio’s inability to score, and Love’s fractious comments about his teammates, Minney looks headed towards another long summer with a pissed off Kevin Love still without a single postseason berth. Also, remember, Love can â€” and probably will â€” opt-out of his contract in the summer of 2015. The ‘Wolves HAVE to make the playoffs this year, or the chances he sticks around dropped significantly with all the suitors he’ll have two summers from now.
What do you think of Love’s comments about his teammates
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.