Kevin Love: Helping in other areas

CLEVELAND -- After Kevin Love scored a season-low five points Monday and didn't attempt a shot after going 1-for-7 in the first quarter, LeBron James suggested there were more shots available for Love that he turned down and questioned whether his teammate's confidence might be shaken.

"I think Kev had some shots that he passed up on," James said. "Maybe he felt that he just wasn't in a good rhythm, but I know I hit him with a few [potential] shots after the first quarter where he had some good looks when he decided to swing-swing [with a pass], which is OK, it kept the ball moving. So, I think for Kev, I think his confidence maybe shooting the ball is a little down, but for me as a player, I get him good looks. I want him to shoot the ball and he needs to shoot it with confidence."

The Cleveland Cavaliers still managed to win their league-leading 11th straight game, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 97-84, but Love finished with an atypical stat line of five points, 15 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 33 minutes.

It was only the third time in the three-time All-Star's seven-year career that he scored five points or fewer in a game in which he played 32 minutes or more, according to BasketballReference.com.

"I'm just doing what's being asked of me," Love said. "I think I've kind of been doing that all year. I've been keeping my head up and keeping positive, glass half-full. And I'm just trying to impact the game in other ways as best I can. I think tonight I did that on the defensive end -- stuff that doesn't necessarily show up in the stat sheet, and I've been trying to rebound the ball and get inside the paint a little bit more these past few games."

Love didn't totally agree with James' assessment.

"Maybe one look, but it was more so on a swing-swing to [Matthew Dellavedova]," Love said. "I think a guy was closing out on me and I hit Delly and Delly didn't end up shooting it. But, no, I think I had some good looks in the first quarter -- a couple tip-ins that I missed; [Timofey Mozgov] and I both went for the lob, I thought I had my hand on it, and missed that one. But, you know, getting good looks there. Not for lack of confidence, no."

Despite the low scoring output, Love had the highest individual plus-minus rating (plus-26) of any Cavs player against Philadelphia.

Cavs coach David Blatt said Love's offensive opportunities or lack thereof is something his team must address.

"That shouldn't happen," Blatt said. "It absolutely shouldn't happen.

"I don't think we moved the ball well enough," he continued.

Cleveland finished with 20 turnovers against 22 assists.

"We could have played at him a little bit more," Blatt said. "We haven't practiced, again, for awhile. We got to work on a few things and clean that up."

Love returned to the court at Quicken Loans Arena immediately following the game for shooting drills with the help of player development coach Phil Handy to clean up things on his shot.

"I think I obviously definitely could be [scoring more]. ... But I'm just doing what's being asked of me right now and playing where I'm being asked to play. And we've won 11 games in a row so I'm going to continue to [play that role]."
Kevin Love

"I just wanted to get some extra shots up," Love said. "I was either going to go do that or lift after the game, and just went and got them up."

While the Cavs are playing their best ball of the season largely because of their improved defense -- which Love has been an integral part of, making strides to shed himself of his bad defensive reputation from his days in Minnesota -- Love has struggled mightily on offense during the Cavs' win streak. In his past 10 games, Love is averaging 13.9 points on 37.2 percent shooting. (He sat out the other game he missed in the streak, a 126-121 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, with back spasms.)

Kyrie Irving, who earlier in the season employed the same postgame routine as Love after a rough shooting night, said Love found other ways to contribute.

"It's a team basketball game," Irving said. "For us, I didn't even know [Love didn't take a shot after the first quarter], honestly. But he was doing all the little things in order for us to win, and we all understand that. I understand that, he understands that. Game to game, it's just different guys are going to step up."

Love ranked fourth in the league last season at 26.1 points per game. He's down to 16.9 points per game this season, the fewest he has put up since his second season in the league.

"I think I obviously definitely could be [scoring more]," Love said. "I've had my share of big games in this league and made a significant impact scoring the ball. But I'm just doing what's being asked of me right now and playing where I'm being asked to play. And we've won 11 games in a row so I'm going to continue to [play that role]. That's just how it is right now."

Love pointed to his dip in offensive rebounds per game -- 2.9 last season with Minnesota compared to 2.2 this season -- as an area where he can help out his game.

"Just getting in the paint with Tristan [Thompson] a little bit more and keeping plays alive because I think that that can be pretty devastating for us when you have guys like Timo and Tristan and myself offensive rebounding," Love said. "Because I've been able to do that in my career and haven't done it as much, probably, as I should this year. But as I mentioned, I'm just going to continue doing right by this team and sacrificing for the better of the team."

James, who has praised Love at times this season for how the power forward handled himself when being benched by Blatt in the fourth quarter, elaborated on how individual sacrifice is necessary for team success.

"At the end of the day, you want to win and you sacrifice whatever you need to do to help the team win," James said. "It's all that matters. It doesn't matter about shot attempts. It doesn't matter about how many touches you get. If you want to win, then you'll do that. I'll go 0-for-0 from the field to win. I'll get rebounds, I'll get assists, I'll take charges, I'll get steals. I don't need to shoot the ball at all, because I'm about winning. That's all that matters."