Kevin Love waited two years to defend his 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend 3-point contest title.
It didn’t take him long to come up short.
Shooting first in Saturday night’s long-range showcase as part of the league’s All-Star Saturday night hoopla in New Orleans, the Timberwolves forward made 12 of 23 attempts and notched 16 points. Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard took his turn next and immediately eliminated Love, scoring 18.
Love won the event in 2012 but wasn’t around to participate last season, when he missed all but 18 games of Minnesota’s season due to injury. He’ll have to wait until Sunday night’s actual All-Star Game to leave an impression in the Bayou after being voted in by fans as a starter for the first time in his career.
Love joked during TNT’s Saturday night telecast he’d been "done dirty" by whoever decided to have him shoot first, given his status as a past champion of the 3-point contest. As he walked off after his final shot from the left corner at the Smoothie King Center, he laughed and shook his head.
In a new twist on this year’s triple competition, players could choose where to place a rack with five "money balls" — shots worth two points. Love had his put behind the left elbow, his favorite spot in games this season.
A 39.6 percent 3-point shooter from the left wing on a copious 164 attempts, Love made only one of his five attempts from there Saturday. His best results came from the right wing, where he knocked down 4 of 5 tries.
He ran out of time before shooting his final two treys from the right-corner rack.
Love enters the All-Star break shooting 37 percent this season, good for fifth among NBA power forwards. He’d probably rank higher if not for taking 308 3s — 25 more than the next-most frequent 3-point shooter of the group.
San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli beat out fellow Western Conference representatives Love, Lillard and Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry to advance to the 3-point contest’s championship round. There, Belinelli edged Washington’s Bradley Beal in a tiebreaker.
Sunday’s All-Star Game, the third of Love’s career, tips off at 7 p.m.