Kevin' Love unhappy with playing time

Kevin Love got to Staples Center early on Tuesday but was one of the last guys to get dressed for the game.

"I just have so many ticket requests whenever I'm in L.A.," the former UCLA star said. "Some people all I can do is give them postgame passes."

At this moment, the ticket issue ranks as an annoyance for Love, not a problem.

A problem would be trying to find a new, delicate answer to the question he gets asked just about every night. It's usually some variation of, "Kevin, so what's up with you and Kurt [Rambis]?" or "Kevin, are you surprised that in Year 3 of your career, after the summer you had, you're only playing 26 or 27 minutes a game?"

It varies from town to town, and Love varies his answers. The only thing that's clear is that he's frustrated by the situation, but trying to stay as professional as possible about it.

"We're cool. We definitely are," Love said of his relationship with Rambis. "There's times that we go back and forth and we disagree on things. It's like that in every business and every thing that goes on."

That's the nice answer.

Still, you can tell he's frustrated.

"The thing I had trouble with last year is that we were a 15-win team. That's what made me upset," he said. "If I were on the Lakers or this team right here [gesturing to the big screen in the Timberwolves locker room showing the Lakers-Trail Blazers game from Sunday], I wouldn't have minded at all.

"But I just felt like, being out there, being 21 years old that I would get better in the time that I was playing so I wanted to be out there more.

"I think one thing Kurt and I agree on is that he'd be upset if I didn't want to be out there all 48 minutes."

Last season, you could kind of understand why Love only started three games after January 15.

Al Jefferson needed to start for the same reason Andrew Bynum needs to start with the Lakers: once a surgically repaired knee is warmed up before the game, you don't want it to cool down.

And once Minnesota traded for Darko Milicic at the trading deadline, it wanted to see what he could do with starters minutes before making a decision on him as a free agent in the summer.

But this year?

After Love earned rave reviews in winning a gold medal with the United States national team at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey ... Why is Rambis only playing him 26-27 minutes again this year?

"I don't know why everyone settles in on Kevin," Rambis said. "Right now our starting unit isn't playing particularly well together. They haven't gelled as a unit, and we bring in a second unit and they bring some energy and effort and we're just trying to find combinations and get some extended minutes out there when we're playing well.

"Until we have guys playing well together it's going to cut into everybody's time – everybody."

There are whispers that Rambis isn't happy with Love's defense and the consistency of his effort.

Love's heard that too.

"I think a lot of it is defense," Love said. "Obviously being a young player I'm still learning and progressing on that. I think just being in shape and playing hard the whole time, that's probably it."

It's the "probably" at the end of that statement that makes you stop a second.

"There's sometimes where if I didn't understand something I'll ask [Rambis]," Love said. "Other than that, I'll just keep my mouth shut, put my head down and keep playing. I don't think anyone can say that I don't play hard."

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow her on Twitter.