The All-Star Blog | LA 2011



The All-Star Blog | LA 2011

WEST 148 EAST 143 GAME RECAP | SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20



Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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ALL-STAR CENTRAL 2011

Lenny Kravitz performing the pregame introductions, halftime with Rhianna, Jack Nicholson, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Diddy, and the plethora of stars in attendance set the stage for the NBA’s showcase event on Sunday night. Minnesota’s Kevin Love admitted the bright lights and intense atmosphere generated some nerves when he checked into the contest at the 11:34 mark of the second quarter.

“I was nervous. When I got out there and took my first shot, I was definitely nervous.” Love further explained his first minutes on the court, “It’s an experience your kind of taken aback by and you know, everyone is going to be nervous their first time.”

To the casual observer, the former UCLA forward seemed right at home with a rebound just 34 seconds after stepping onto the Staples Center floor. Love posted two points, four rebounds, and one assist in just under 12 minutes of action in his first All-Star appearance.

The competitor inside Love knew he could have played a bigger role in the West’s 148-143 victory over the East. “You know, I thought it was mediocre. I thought a few things could have gone better but for a big man like me, you are not going to touch the ball that much in All-Star games. I just tried to do my part and get in where I fit in,” Love said.

Of course, the most impressive All-Star highlight from Love was his trademark outlet pass. With 1.4 seconds remaining in the first half, Love quickly shifted along the baseline to find a streaking Chris Paul on the opposite side of the floor. The Wolves third-year power used a two-handed over the head pass and heaved a perfect dime to Paul. As the clock ticked down, Paul hoisted a floater that beat the buzzer and provided the West with a 76-64 halftime lead.

The West raced past the East behind Kobe Bryant’s game-high 37 points and fourth All-Star MVP. Love offered a little insight to the sideline conversations taking place with the Lakers legend, “Oh man, it was a lot of fun. I was joking around with Kobe [Bryant] the whole time about rebounding and he ended up with 14 of them. I think that’s what he was most proud of tonight, especially winning MVP honors.”

As Staples Center shutdown the lights, closed the doors, and the celebrity crowd headed for the exits, Love summarized the life-changing weekend, “Oh, it was great. First time – I mean it was unbelievable. I only played 12 minutes, I only shot a couple of times but still got out there and enjoyed myself to the fullest. The whole weekend is very hectic – non-stop constant motion but I can be happy with the way things turned out.”

Last year, Love earned a spot on the Sophomore squad at the All-Star game in Dallas. He expressed a desire to train hard and increase his productivity in order to return a member of the Western Conference All-Star team. Mission accomplished for the NBA’s double-double leader. However, the motivation has only increased in Love’s mind, “To prove that it’s not a fluke, just keep working my tail off to continue to get better and like I said, come out here next year and do it again.”

Wolves fans will welcome back their first All-Star since 2007 and hope Love can continue his historic season. The sky is the limit as Love transitions into the next phase of his career with an All-Star appearance under his belt and an experience he will never forget.

JUST ONE OF THE GUYS - ALL-STAR PRACTICE | SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19



Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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ALL-STAR CENTRAL 2011

On Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, Kevin Love practiced with the Western Conference All-Stars and quickly adapted to the raucous atmosphere. Inside the Convention Center, fans packed the stands to watch both squads run through some offensive sets and shooting contests. Love seemed right at home next to the elite players of the NBA, often joking with his good friend Russell Westbrook and dunk specialist Blake Griffin. Following the “practice” media members raced out to the floor and fought for interviews with the All-Stars. Luckily, timberwolves.com was on the scene to find out what Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Dwight Howard thought about Mr. Love.

“I think he has been phenomenal to say the least. Offensively and defensively, making the right plays and making the right decisions – obviously rebounding is probably his strong suit. He’s a very underrated 3-pointer shooter and I think his all-around game has really flourished this year.” -- Bryant

“He just worked hard. Once a player gets his feet set and understands the demands of the NBA, the next year is always easier and I think that’s been the case with him.”-- Bryant on how Love has changed from this year compared to last season.

“Kevin Love, for a guy who can’t jump over a phone book, he is averaging 15 rebounds, which is amazing for a guy his size. I’m very happy for him and I think he deserves to be in the All-Star game. He should have started this year, he’s been excellent all year, he’s been the most consistent guy on their team, he’s been one of the most consistent guys in the league and I’m happy for him. It’s great to see a guy like him each year get better and I’m happy for his progress and he is going to make Minnesota very proud.” – Dwight Howard

“I think Kevin Love has done a good job not only setting his mark on this league but playing like an All-Star on a consistent basis. It’s not everyday that players can say that. When I watch him on tape, I think the difference is his confidence, the way he plays – he understands who he is, not trying to be someone else and it’s been consistent.” – Kevin Garnett

In case you are wondering, Love picked Griffin to win Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest while Wolves rookie Wes Johnson is backing Javale Mcgee. Stay tuned to 612allstar.com/LA2011 tomorrow for complete coverage of Love’s first appearance in the 60th NBA All-Star game at 8 p.m. central on TNT.

ROOKIES 148 SOPHOMORES 140 GAME RECAP



Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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ALL-STAR CENTRAL 2011

It must be the shoes?

Wes Johnson sported bright yellow adidas kicks for the Rookie-Sophomore Game on Friday night and his performance stood out as much as the outlandish shoes. The Wolves No. 4 overall pick led all scorers at halftime with 16 points and scored 25 in the Rookies 148-140 victory over the Sophomores.

“It had to be the shoes. No, no, it was the socks,” Johnson joked. I had a good rhythm going out there but my whole mentality was to win the game, I was saying that a lot but talking to the guys, I really wanted to win.”

Displaying the versatility that made him attractive to the Minnesota front office on Draft night, Johnson threw down a couple of quick dunks in the first 20 minutes along with back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Rookies capture momentum early in the contest.

“It was fun, you see the speed of the guys, everybody with their court vision and passing that they were doing, so it was good for us to get up and down. I can say that it was a lot of fun,” Johnson said.

As the game tightened down the stretch, Johnson found a spot on the floor despite not starting the game. He drilled a key 3-pointer at the 4:25 mark to tie the game at 130-130. Overall, the Minnesota shooting guard was extremely efficient shooting the rock, hitting 10-of-15 field goal attempts, 3-for-5 behind the arc, and 14 in the +/- category.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, LOVE | FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18



Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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ALL-STAR CENTRAL 2011

Friday featured a mixed bag of events for Wes Johnson and Kevin Love. Johnson participated in a light practice with the Rookie squad before meeting the media at Jam Session. The Wolves rookie cruised over to the Staples Center around 3 p.m. pacific time to prepare for the Rookie-Sophomore contest.

Love worked the NBAE circuit to begin his morning and taped a special message for NBA Cares, discussing the various community events he’s involved with in Minneapolis. The power forward moved over to a sit down interview similar to Johnson’s yesterday except with a few wrinkles. The NBAE crew asked about his worst fear, one thing he would change in his life, and his "made it in the NBA" moment. Love quipped, "I would change the amount of sweat under my arm pits." The 6-10 rebounding machine also admitted to owning a serious fear of spiders.

After answering the myriad of questions, Love spoke to ESPN Radio and NBATV’s Marc Fein and Steve Smith. While moving through the stations, the third-year star received some props from well known NBA greats, such as Kevin Garnett (past meets present?), Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol. The All-Stars gathered inside a conference room for media availability with each player taking a seat at a roundtable while media members bombarded them with questions. For obvious reasons, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant garnered the most attention but Love was a popular figure in his first All-Star appearance.

Of course, timberwolves.com was on sight to ask the West All-Stars their thoughts on Love's spectacular 2010-11 campaign.

"It's another monster in this league - every night a double-double.You look up and he's got 15-15 and it could be the second quarter. He just has a knack for going after the basketball and he's added so much to his offensive game - step out and hit threes now, he's just a complete player." -- Deron Williams, Jazz point guard

"He's been unbelievable, he's been great - I don't know how many wins they have, but that is the best, whatever, 15...16 win team out there right now. They play tough, they played us four great games when we played them and he's been unbelievable to play against, to watch his stats. I think he's just having a great year." -- Tim Duncan, Spurs forward

"It's incredible he had a 30-30 game, he's getting 20 rebounds left and right, and if you look at him he's not that tall, even that big, he's just got a great nose for the ball, great hands and he's really got a low center of gravity. I really actually think he's the most underrated player in the league." -- Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks forward

"I knew it was coming - he's been putting on shows since I've been meeting him. He's a great guy and he's getting better." -- Russell Westbrook, Thunder point guard

"It's crazy...it's crazy me, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and D-Will were just talking about it. You know, I don't know, he's got 51...52 straight double-doubles. It's crazy - teams know is going into the game too and me and D-Will were talking about it - he looked up at the clock at halftime and he had eight and six and they thought they might stop his double-double streak, but the end of the third quarter he had 18 and 13. I don't know...it's unreal." -- Chris Paul, Hornets point guard

"Love has done a great job this year and I think his rebounding has been off the charts and his dedication and consistency has been incredible. I take my hat off because it has been really impressive." -- Pau Gasol, Lakers forward

Late in the afternoon, Love traveled to Virgil Middle School in Los Angeles to lend a helping hand. The former UCLA big man enjoyed an opportunity to contribute in the area where he played college ball. Ironically, Love was designated to a Bruins painting assignment next to a young man attempting to color the UCLA logo.

THE ARRIVAL | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17



Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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ALL-STAR CENTRAL 2011

Wolves rookie Wes Johnson has faced the bright lights and big stage many times throughout his heralded high school and college career. On Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles, Johnson took the next step with a little taste of the All-Star life.

The Minnesota shooting guard arrived at the players’ hotel next to Staples Center at 3 p.m. local time for an NBAE circuit, which involved a couple of photo shoots, a special spotlight interview, and a unique roundtable discussion with fellow rookies Blake Griffin, John Wall, and Landry Fields.

“That’s the hardest one, when you are sitting in the director’s chair and the people seem like they are moving back further and further because of the lights. But, I feel like I’m a natural,” Johnson explained after stepping in front of the NBA cameras.

Sporting a dress shirt and jeans, Johnson smoothly moved from one station to the next while enjoying a brief moment to share some laughs. The most entertaining portion of Thursday’s afternoon events was the roundtable feature. The rookies were asked a variety of questions, including if they hit the rookie wall, player most excited to play against, the challenges of traveling in the NBA, and when each rookie knew they made it. Johnson felt he shined on December 27 against New Orleans, where the former Syracuse star drilled 6-of-8 long bombs for a career-high 24 points at the Target Center.

Following the roundtable, timberwolves.com caught up with Wall and Johnson prior to their first Rookie Team meeting. Wall is excited to join forces the Wolves high flyer , “Oh, there are going to be a lot of alley oops. That’s what I like to have somebody on the wing; I can throw it up too, so we’re just going to have fun but take it a little serious and try to win. You have to win for the Rookies but we are just going to enjoy the great environment. It’s great to be in LA, great city to be in, and a great opportunity to for us to reach our dreams even more.”

The Rookies and Sophomores will practice and meet the media tomorrow morning before suiting up for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam at 8 p.m. central.

Kevin Love landed in Los Angeles today and will participate in the All-Star media circuit tomorrow. Check back to 612allstar.com/LA2011 for comprehensive game coverage and exclusive behind the scenes action.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter. Visit the Wolves official Facebook Page here.