Cavs' Kevin Love Says Controversial Inbounds Pass vs. Raptors Wasn't 'Malicious'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) drives around Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward Kevin Love explained Wednesday why he inbounded a pass to the Toronto Raptors during Monday's 112-96 loss. 

According to Mark Medina of USA Today, Love said: "The intent there wasn't malicious. It wasn't against the team."

Love continued:

"Not to say too much that could get me fined, but it was the officiating. When I snagged that ball, I didn't realize it wasn't even inbounds. I was a little thrown off. I was going to go grab it and throw back into passing the ball to [Darius Garland] and move on. I get the optics. That's something I have to take on the chin and understand that was a very bad look."

A frustrated Love slapped the ball into play after an official tossed it to him, allowing the Raptors to possess the ball and make a three:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

What is Kevin Love doing 😅 https://t.co/WpZP4UZJHL

Toronto extended its lead from six to nine late in the third quarter thanks to the gaffe and went on to win the game by 16.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Love apologized to his teammates and coaches Monday and that the Cavs decided to handle the matter internally.

Love confirmed as much and said of his teammates: "They all understand it was a quick moment."

Along with reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova, Love is the only player remaining from the Cavs' NBA championship win in 2016. Because of that, he is expected to be a veteran leader and set an example for the younger players.

The 32-year-old Love is in his seventh season with the Cavs and 13th NBA season overall. He has been among the best bigs in the league since entering with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008.

Love owns career averages of 18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 three-pointers made per game, in addition to being a five-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA second-team selection.

He has been limited to 18 games this season due to injury, but Love has been a solid role player when healthy, averaging 11.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 three-pointers made.

The 2020-21 season has been a difficult one for the Cavs, who currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 21-40 record, leaving them six games out of a spot in the postseason play-in tournament.

While wins have been hard to come by, the Cavaliers have seen Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and trade acquisition Jarrett Allen take big steps forward as individuals, meaning the future may be bright for the young and talented team.