Kevin Love cares not about the Western Conference's crop of other premier power forwards.
On Dec. 13, the Minnesota Timberwolves' superstar big man went off for 42 points and 14 rebounds against Tim Duncan and followed it up with 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists against early MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers just five days later.
Love continued that assault on Sunday night, pouring in 45 points to go with 19 rebounds, six assists and a steal in a 120-116 overtime loss against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers.
NBA.com's Twitter feed provided the amazing shot chart:
It was the first such performance in 17 years, when some guy named Hakeem Olajuwon did it, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Kevin Love: 1st with at least 45 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists in game since Hakeem Olajuwon (46/19/8) for 1996 Rockets vs Timberwolves— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 23, 2013
It was a ridiculously efficient night for Love, as he needed just 23 shots (15-of-23 from the field, 2-of-6 from deep, 13-of-15 from the free-throw line) to compile his 45 points. That's a silly 1.96 points per shot.
Hey, Kevin Love, you're really good at this basketball thing. What do you think about that?
ESPN's Arash Markazi put it simply:
Kevin Love is something else. Best power forward in the game and it's hard to argue against that anymore.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 23, 2013
Unfortunately, the gaudy individual stats and recognition mean next to nothing to Love, who was only interested in talking about "we" after the 13-15 Timberwolves let a late regulation lead slip away and then came up short in overtime.
"We just blew it. Blew the game. I don't know how else to say it. We blew the game," Love said, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today).
It was hardly his fault, though.
He was able to foul Griffin out—who had 32 points and 10 rebounds and battled Love all night in the post—early in the extra period, leaving no one to efficiently defend him. But it was Nikola Pekovic who missed two shots down the stretch, including one on the final possession where Love didn't touch the ball.
The Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski and Grantland's Bill Simmons balked at the final moments:
Love HAS to touch the ball on the last possession. HAS to.— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) December 23, 2013
Just saw the Kevin Love "I have 45 points, really, i'm not gonna touch the ball on the do-or-die play?" Face. He has a pretty good case.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 23, 2013
Best power forward right now in the Western Conference?
Still, while the end result was hardly something the T-Wolves or Love himself will be happy with, the 25-year-old is on a tear.
The defense may leave something to be desired, but he is easily one of the most unique players we've seen in quite some time.