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Surprise! Love voted into All-Star game

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm •  Published: January 23, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Surprise, Kevin Love. You're an All-Star starter.

The Minnesota Timberwolves' forward was voted a Western Conference starter Thursday night, leap-frogging Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard in the final balloting to earn the first starting nod of his career.

"I think it's a little sweeter this way because I really didn't expect it," Love said on a conference call. "I was already humbled by the response the fans gave me to being very close to the top (frontcourt players). The outreach by the Minnesota fans and beyond was truly amazing."

Earlier in the day after practice in San Francisco, where the Wolves are preparing for a game Friday night against Golden State, Love sounded resigned to not getting voted in when he spoke to reporters. In the final voting tabulations made public last week, Love trailed Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin by 17,000 votes for the third and final frontcourt spot.

Love was eating lunch in his hotel room when Timberwolves President Flip Saunders and GM Milt Newton came to his room and gave him the news.

"I was in disbelief up until it came across the screen that I was going to be a starter," Love said.

The Wolves' public relations staff made a massive push to get out the vote, urging fans to use social media to stuff the box. It's a bit of vindication for small-market Minnesota to be successful in pushing its star into the game when he was competing against the likes of Griffin and Howard in much bigger cities with much bigger fan bases. Love received 661,246 votes.

"It means a lot. It doesn't go unnoticed," Love said. "The fans have been so great this year not only to me, but to the rest of the team. Everybody's had my back and had the team's back so much. It really means a lot."

It's also a testament to Love's superb season. Despite playing on a team that hasn't quite met expectations this year while hovering around .500 for most of the season, Love has reasserted himself as one of the very best power forwards in the game. He is fourth in the league in scoring at 25.0 points per game, second in rebounds (13.0) and is averaging a career-high 4.1 assists. He has also made big strides on the defensive end as he tries to lead the Timberwolves to their first playoff appearance since 2004.

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