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Weighing W’s and L’s vs numbers in All-Star votes

- Associated Press - Friday, January 28, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Kevin Love is putting up staggering numbers for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rebounds _ 15.7 per game, nearly 2 1/2 better than the next closest NBA player.

Points _ 21.6, putting him on track to become the first player since Moses Malone in 1982-83 to average at least 20 points and 15 rebounds per game.

Three-point percentage _ 44.7, tied for seventh in the league.

But there is one number that threatens to prevent him from making his first All-Star team. It's 10, which is how many victories the Timberwolves have this season.

"I feel like I've done the best I could to show I'm an All-Star type talent, but I know that wins come at a premium in this league and a lot of coaches are going to look at that," Love said. "But hopefully, maybe, they can get past that this year and make an exception."

Love isn't alone in hoping coaches look past wins and make him a reserve for the All-Star game on Feb. 20 in Los Angeles.

Golden State guard Monta Ellis, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Memphis forward Zach Randolph are all putting up huge numbers this season while playing for losing teams. The performances are making it tough on Western Conference coaches who vote for the reserves.

"There are going to be a lot of hard votes, hard decisions," Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

Ellis is averaging 25.8 points per game, fourth in the league. Griffin has been the breakout star of the first half with his ferocious dunks. Randolph is putting up a double-double nearly every night to help the improving Grizzlies (22-24) approach the .500 mark.

Their numbers are creating a debate among the NBA's coaches. Is there room in the All-Star game for losers? Love, Griffin, Ellis and Randolph aren't losers, but their teams have a combined record of 68-113.

Love's Timberwolves (10-35) are tied for fewest wins in the West, Griffin's Clippers (17-28) are still well under .500 despite a solid run of late and Ellis's incredible scoring has done little to change the fortunes for the Warriors (19-26).

"I don't think there's any formula for it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think that everything should be considered. I think it's natural for a player on a team with a better record to probably get the attention first. But it does not preclude a player who has been outstanding on a team with a lesser record from being considered.

"I think it's a subjective thing. It depends what people think, how much they respect and value what a specific player has done."

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, while complimentary of Love's progression, was a little less diplomatic.

"I think his numbers are impressive enough to be considered," Karl said. "But I like taking guys off the teams that win games."

The star power out West isn't helping their cause. Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant will start, with the center yet to be determined after the injured Yao Ming was voted in by the fans. That leaves players like Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge to vie for seven spots on the bench.

"The thing I'll tell you, to be very frank, is that the coaches' vote is always tipped heavily toward winning," Carlisle said. "I'm no different than the rest of the coaches. I think that's a major factor in the votes."

That's not good news for Love, Ellis, Randolph and Griffin.

It would be hard to imagine Griffin not getting voted in for a game played in his arena. The rookie is averaging 22.6 points and 12.8 rebounds and has made soaring dunks this season.

"He deserves to be on the All-Star team, I think," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, who cannot vote for a player on his own team. "He's shouldered a ton of the load for us. Statistically, he's off the charts, and he's only going to get better."

Love has been even better. He has six games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds already. Dwight Howard led that category last year with three. He has three 30-20 games _ the first player to do that since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990-91. And he had a 31-point, 31-rebound masterpiece against the Knicks in November, the first 30-30 game in the NBA in 28 years.

"The combination of a guy who can average almost five offensive rebounds and shoot 45 percent from 3, I don't think that's ever been seen in our league. Ever," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It just hasn't happened. He's a very, very unique guy."

Unfortunately for Love, Van Gundy doesn't have a vote for the Western Conference team. The Timberwolves sent out a promotional package to all the coaches in the West that includes a creative and funny pitch they hope will catch the coaches' attention.

But Love seems to be doing a pretty good job of that on his own.

"People talk about the record of the team," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "What this kid (Griffin) has done, what Love has done, night after night, that's pretty special. ... I've looked at it. It's going to be very interesting."

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AP Sports Writers Jaime Aron in Dallas, Chris Duncan in Houston and Antonio Gonzalez in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

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