As Love Sidelines 8-10 Weeks, Wolves Continue To Adapt

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Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves forward Kevin Love underwent successful surgery this morning to repair the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced today.

Love re-fractured his right hand in the Wolves’ Jan. 3 game against the Denver Nuggets. He initially broke his hand in October while doing knuckle pushups during a morning individual workout in Minneapolis. Love has played in 18 games this season, scoring 18.3 points and adding 14.0 rebounds per game and compiling 14 double-doubles.

Dr. Michelle Carlson at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York performed the procedure. He’s expected to miss 8-10 weeks.

“It’s tough—he’s our best guy, and we’re going to miss him,” Wolves guard Ricky Rubio said. “But like I said, we can’t regret. We have to move forward and players have to step up. I think he was doing a great job in scoring and rebounding. Everybody has to do a little bit more with Kevin out.”

The Timberwolves are 16-19 after their four-game road trip this past week. They were one game above .500 when news of Love’s impending surgery surfaced last week Wednesday.

The key for the Wolves is continuing to compete. All season long they’ve dealt with a slew of injuries that have hampered their roster and altered the way they prepare for games. Along with Love’s surgery, guards Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee as well as forwards Chase Budinger and Josh Howard have all had surgeries this year to date.

Even still, the Wolves have stayed within striking distance of a Western Conference playoff spot. They’re currently three games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth spot in the West, they’re 10-5 at home and they’ve got nine of their next 12 games at Target Center.

“Obviously you don’t want to see your guys get hurt, but it’s part of the game,” forward Lou Amundson said. “It’s something we’ve been dealing with all season. It’s something we’ve had to deal with before, and we just have to keep moving on. We’re going to continue playing games. The season’s not going to stop. We’ve just got to do the best we can and find ways to win.”

If Love sticks to the 8-10 week plan, the earliest he would return this season would be March 12. That night the Wolves face the Spurs at home before their normal mid-March stretch of road games kick in during the high school state tournaments. Minnesota will be on the road for six of their next eight games after that.

It will be about the same time that Budinger expects to return after undergoing meniscus surgery in his left knee in November.

Wolves coach Terry Porter said throughout the road trip that Minnesota continues to battle, and they will continue to do so regardless of who is available to suit up. Guard Luke Ridnour said every team has injuries, especially during the thick of the season, and during this important stretch between now and the All-Star Break the Wolves need to continue to play hard and win games.

“That’s kind of been our identity all year,” Amundson said. “We’ve had to improvise a lot and be adaptive in the way we play. So thus far this season that’s kind of what our identity has been. You just have to keep being able to do that—being able to find ways to win.”

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