Newspaper article International New York Times

Cavaliers Heat Up as Forward Settles in ; Talented Team Performs Even Better When Love Is Included in Plays

Newspaper article International New York Times

Cavaliers Heat Up as Forward Settles in ; Talented Team Performs Even Better When Love Is Included in Plays

Article excerpt

Kevin Love has not always been a big part of the Cavaliers' fun and games, but this talented team can play even better when he is included.

Kevin Love has spent large chunks of the season camped out in corners, waiting for passes that seldom arrive. It has been his traveling act with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have no absence of scrutiny, and no player on the roster faces more of it than Love. Considering that the Cavaliers employ LeBron James, this is no small feat.

Yet if Love's season has been a smorgasbord of questions (about his willingness to meld with James and Kyrie Irving) and not-so- subtle criticisms (about his reluctance to muck it up in the paint), his life was different for two idyllic hours against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. He was active. He was present. He was impossible to ignore.

The Cavaliers were well on their way to smashing the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum when Love worked to establish position on the low block in the third quarter. With J.R. Smith searching for an angle to make an entry pass, Love actually motioned for the ball to be reversed. Smith passed it to him, anyway, and Love scored on a soft jump hook.

"It was by design to get Kevin the ball," James said after the Cavaliers' 22-point victory. "It's always by design to get him the ball. Tonight, he was very aggressive."

At least two of those three statements were true. But if James and his teammates have not always included Love in their fun and games and Instagram posts, the easy takeaway from Wednesday's tour de force was that the Cavaliers -- the surging, supertalented Cavaliers -- are even more fearsome when he is involved.

In Miami, James won two championships alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In Cleveland, the expectations are no less huge -- and it was James, remember, who helped sell Love on the Cavaliers over the summer, greasing his exit from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The season has turned into something of a telenovela for Love, who is averaging 16.6 points and 10.1 rebounds -- muted numbers for him -- while he grapples with a supporting role. In recent weeks, Love has found himself in the unfamiliar position of sitting out fourth quarters. …

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