Kevin Love's record-breaking season was still not enough for Wolves
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For the 10th straight season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are on the outside looking in on the playoffs.
The disappointment from another lost season is more pronounced than in recent years. Expectations were high that with a healthy Kevin Love and a retooled supporting that the Wolves finally had a team equipped for a run to the postseason.
Instead, the Wolves could never break from the average, with promising wins being paired with baffling meltdowns. Out of the playoff race for the season's last month, the end result was a 40-win campaign (40-42) that left them in 10th in the Western Conference, nine games out of the final playoff spot. It was their best season in nine years but nonetheless a disappointing one.
But despite all of the Wolves' shortcomings, it's important to not overlook Love's record-breaking season.
Frustration from an injury-derailed season in 2012-13 gave way to a rejuvenated Love. The statistics the All-Star forward put up in his sixth NBA season were certainly eye-catching.
Here's an overview:
• Love finished fourth in the league in scoring (26.1 points per game), behind Kevin Durant (32 ppg), Carmelo Anthony (27.4 ppg) and Lebron James (27.1 ppg)
• He ranked third overall in total rebounds (12.5 rebounds per game).
• Love broke Kevin Garnett's single-season franchise scoring record, ending with 2,010 total points. While Garnett played in all 82 games when he originally set the record back in 2004, Love needed only 76 games to set a new mark.
• Love became the first player in NBA history to post 2,000-points (2010), 900 rebounds (963) and 100 3-pointers (190).
• With a freshly honed knack for assists, Love went from not having a triple-double in his career to recording three in one season (Feb. 22 vs Utah - 37 pts, 12 rebs, 10 asts; March 28 - 22 pts, 10 rebs, 10 asts; April 2 - 24 pts, 16 rebs, 10 asts). And he was close to having several more. Love finished one assist shy of a triple-double in six games.
• Love had a career-high 65 double-doubles, one more than he had in the 2010-11 season. He has notched double-doubles in 256 of his 364 career games.
However, even with stunning production from Love, the season ended with the same sour, playoff-less taste as his five previous years with the Wolves.
Minnesota simply didn't get enough consistent production beyond Love. As a whole, the Wolves could never completely shed their inability to win close games. Big leads dissolved into losses on numerous occasions.
The Wolves took steps towards being a playoff team but could never hold on to that identity for more than a couple games at a time. The pressure is now on Flip Saunders and the front office to make the adjustments in the offseason that could satisfy Love, whose future in Minnesota remains in doubt, and get the Wolves back in the playoffs after a decade-long absence.
After a loss to Utah in the Wolves' season-finale, Love said it is largely his responsibility that Minnesota doesn't fall short of expectations again next year.
"Obviously I carry a lot of the weight," Love said. "That's what I get paid to do, so a lot of it rides on my shoulders. I'm going to keep working hard to change that. Some stuff is out of your control, but the stuff you can you just have to fight for as hard as you possibly can."