OK, so let the great debate continue:

Are the Timberwolves better without their best player, Kevin Love?

Denver coach George Karl contributed to the discussion after he watched Love leave Thursday's game in the third quarter clutching that right shooting hand again and then saw the Wolves quickly wipe away a 10-point deficit and beat his team at home for only their second loss in 12 games there this season.

The only other team that has beat the Nuggets at Pepsi Center?

Not the L.A. Clippers, who had their 17-game win streak end there on Tuesday.

Yes, that's right: The defending champs, Miami, is the only other team to win there this season, on Nov. 15.

That was an eight-game home winning streak in between losses.

One night after that stinker in Utah, the Wolves won while Love went to the locker room to discover he appeared to sprain the third metacarpal -- one of two bones he broke in October -- on that shooting hand and then came to watch some of the fourth quarter from the bench.

They did so with Dante Cunningham taking over for Love at power forward in a final quarter when Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea also stepped forth.

And guess what?

WIthout Love, the Wolves defense, particularly in transition, improved noticeably and Barea took over offensively with a strategy that often appeared to be: Give him the ball and get the heck out of the way.

No telling how long this latest setback with that hand will last.

Is it time to rest the hand for some time and get it completely healthy without him continually banging it?

Love wasn't talking after the game. He hid out in the training room, reading something and not getting treatment, well after the game and didn't want to talk to reporters.

Karl did.

"I think Minnesota at times plays better without Love," Karl said afterward. "They're kind of a machine-like offense. They give guys different opportunities. But they're pretty good."

OK, so short term, with Love struggling so, they're better.

Anybody here willing to argue long term they're better without him.

That's just plain silliness, but I know you're out there, so pipe up...


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