Pregame: Wolves Remain Confident As Love Misses Clippers Game

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love suffered a mild concussion and neck strain in last night’s game at Denver, and stayed overnight at a hospital for precautionary reasons.

After further evaluation today, Love’s diagnosis remains unchanged and he has been cleared to return to Minneapolis. He will not play in tonight’s game against the L.A. Clippers. In the upcoming days, Love will be further evaluated by the Timberwolves medical staff, and an update to his status will be provided when warranted. Love suffered the injury at the 3:59 mark of the first quarter when he was struck by a JaVale McGee inadvertent elbow to the head.

“It wasn’t scary to see him get hit, because that’s part of the game,” forward Michael Beasley said. “But to see him not get up, as tough as Kevin is, that sent a chill down my spine.”

Still, the Wolves bounced back from losing their All-Star and showed their resiliency. Even with Love becoming the eighth player to miss a game this month on Minnesota’s roster, the Wolves rallied from 24 points down against the Nuggets to nearly steal a win. Minnesota lost 113-107.

Coach Rick Adelman will have a similar situation tonight with Love out and Derrick Williams stepping in. Williams, who scored 27 points in Denver, is one of several players with an opportunity to step up and contribute while Love is not in the lineup.

“With Kevin on the court, you kind of have to go through him because he’s our main guy,” forward Anthony Tolliver said. “But with him off the court, we have some opportunities for guys to step up.”

Williams and forward Anthony Randolph were prime examples last night. Randolph had 28 points and five blocks, helping out on both ends of the court.

“He’s a big time scoring presence and help us out on the rebounding end, but when a guy like him goes out we have to collectively step up for him,” Tolliver said. “Some of the guys like Anthony (Randolph) and Derrick picked it up on the scoring end of it. Who knows what would have happened if Kevin was on the court, but we made that run without him, so we know he’s not our whole team. We have a lot of guys that can play this game.”

In 55 games this season, Love is among the NBA’s league leaders in points (26.0 ppg, fourth), rebounds (13.3 rpg, second), double-doubles (48, first), minutes played (39.0 mpg, second), FTM (379, first) and FTA (460, second).

The fourth-year forward has recorded 10 games of 30-points/15-rebounds this season, while the rest of the league has combined for nine such contests. Love made his second consecutive NBA All-Star Game appearance this year and tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while also winning the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest on All-Star Saturday Night.

But with Love out of the lineup tonight, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said the most important thing for L.A. to do is focus on their own game. He said last night’s comeback attempt against the Nuggets is enough evidence to suggest the Wolves can compete without their All-Star forward.

“No question Kevin presents a lot of problems, but Randolph and Williams played well last night. (Center Nikola) Pekovic when he’s in is a handful. Beasley has hurt us in the past. Barea’s penetration you have to control.”

Beasley said everyone is ready to step up in Love’s absence.

“Even with our best man down, we all just want to win and we all got heart,” Beasley said. “I feel we showed it (against Denver) even though we lost last night.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.

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