Love Bites

To see Love continually slack on transition defense while pouting over a referee’s perceived missed call or his own missed shots, it’s disappointing. Beyond killing his team’s defensive capabilities — debatable, considering how Love performs, even when he does get back in transition — it makes it impossible to root for the guy.

Likability is a trait this team has in spades — from Pek’s folk-hero goofy dominance, Shved’s stealthy aloofness, AK’s all-around brilliance and Ricky’s being Ricky.

Love should be the skilled lunch pail guy that everyone can get behind — whether his shots are getting blocked, falling or not, hard work has been his constant calling card throughout.

This year? Not so much.

Multiple bouts of illness, the broken hand, the post-Team USA shutdown — something about the confluence of these events has led Love to resemble his former doughy self much more than the svelte version that reported for the lockout season. Whispers of his breakout year being contract-motivated should light a fire under him, if the sad results can’t.

Rumor has it, Love is putting in the extra work after practice and knocking down shots everywhere but during games. Should these reports be believed, Love is right to be frustrated and attempting to shoot his way out of his slump.

The trouble with being the unquestioned leader and superstar of this team is he will be blamed for what’s wrong regardless of how big a part he has played in it. To many, his untimely complaints have come off as childish and immature, proof that he will say anything to cover himself before making his great escape back to the West Coast. To those folks, his comments and poor play have painted quite a large target on his back.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options. He needs to keep shooting while not letting his successes or failures dictate how well he contributes on the defensive end or the boards. Utah’s Paul Millsap routinely kicks Love’s behind, so I’m not too upset about his performance Wednesday night, but it is a disappointing start to the new year.

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