Could this be the end of Kevin Love's season?
The Wolves are calling the elbow he took to the head from JaVale McGee tonight in Denver a mild concussion and neck strain, but...
Love spent the night in a Denver hospital as a precautionary measure -- physical therapist/assistant athletic trainer Andrew Tai stayed behind with him -- and certainly won't play Thursday against the Clippers at Target Center.
The NBA instituted a concussion policy “for the safety and protection of our players” at the start of the season in December after several players, including All Star Chris Paul, sustained such head injuries. It joined the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball in doing so.
A player diagnosed with a concussion will have to complete a series of steps to prove he’s healthy enough to play. Once a player is symptom free, he is tested through increasing stages of exertion – from a stationary bike to jogging, agility work and non-contact team drills – to make sure he remains symptom free.
An NBA-hired neurologist is consulted before the player is cleared to play.
So what if that process takes, say, a week?
The Wolves, in another weird twist of the schedule, play just twice in the season's final week, so if Love shouldn't get cleared until then, why risk the threat of another hit if it's so late in the season?
We'll see, but as J.J. Barea said in the locker room afterward, any kind of concussion is serious.
Love was injured the same night Boston forward Mickael Pietrus returned to action after missing 17 days because of a Grade 3 concussion sustained in Philadelphia last month. He spent two weeks “trying to rest my brain.”
“I could not watch TV, I could not do anything,” Pietrus told reporters. “It’s not like an injury that you hurt your knee or your ankle – it’s your brain, so you have to get your brain right. That’s basically your life.”
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant underwent a couple of days of league-mandated testing after Miami’s Dwyane Wade hit him in the head and nose during February’s All-Star Game in Orlando before he was cleared to play again.
If Love is lost for multiple games -- or the season -- they will create the opportunity Anthony Randolph seized tonight with a 28-point game off the bench.
Of course, Randolph seized that opportunity late last season when Love missed the season's final weeks and see where that got him.
When asked where that has been all season from Randolph, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, "I don't know but that's what we're looking for. He has an opportunity. Guys come in and try to earn minutes and he was very good tonight."
Before this season, the Wolves never had two players score 25 points each in a game off the bench.
Now they've done it twice in two months.
Tonight it was Randolph's 28 and Derrick Williams' 27 after Love went down in the first quarter.
On Feb. 28 against the Clippers in L.A., Williams and Beasley each scored 27 in a victory.
The Wolves trailed by as many as 24 points just before and after halftime tonight, then changed the game with a 32-11 run that ended the third, started the fourth and helped them tie the game twice in the final five minutes.
They were within 109-107 in the final 33 seconds and had the chance to tie the game, but all they got out of a possession was Barea dribbling and dribbling the ball until he settled for a 12-foot shot that missed with 19 seconds and forced the Wolves to foul the rest of the way.
The loss was the Wolves' seventh straight and they remain 0-for-April for the third consecutive year so far.
"Just kind of hard to find something to go with that group because we haven't played like them very much," Adelman said. "If we play like that, if we compete like that, we're going to win games. We'll be fine."
Here's the game story from Wednesday night and there should be six minutes of video from Adelman,Barea and Williams up here by morning.