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Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.

Jack Dempsey, Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love reacts to his injured right hand.

Jack Dempsey, Associated Press

After hand surgery, Love expected back in March

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • January 9, 2013 - 11:33 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY - That right (shooting) hand Kevin Love broke last week for the second time this season will require surgery next week, and he is expected to miss the next eight to 10 weeks.

That would mean he will be back on the floor by mid- to late March.

Just in the time for the April playoffs, right?

Right ... ?

Love missed his third consecutive game Wednesday night after refracturing that hand last Thursday at Denver. He will have surgery to repair the third and fourth metacarpal bones, the same two he broke while doing knuckle pushups in October.

It's not even the latest bad injury news for a team that has been bit all season long: The Wolves lost reserve guard J.J. Barea for Wednesday's game at Oklahoma City because of back spasms just hours after a New York City hand specialist determined Love will need surgery.

The Wolves started the season with both Love and Ricky Rubio sidelined and now have lost Love again, as well as Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee, and that doesn't even include midseason pickup Josh Howard, who also suffered a knee injury.

"We were just sitting around talking about it as a coaching staff," Wolves acting head coach Terry Porter said Wednesday of a conversation with assistants Jack Sikma and T.R. Dunn, "thinking of all the teams we've been around and if we've ever faced anything like this. And I don't recall anything in my experience like this. It's just weird, really weird."

Wednesday's opponent, the Thunder, has used the same starting lineup for all of its 35 games this season.

"It's tough," Rubio said. "He's our best guy and we're going to miss him. But we can't regret. We just have to move forward. Players have to step up."

The Wolves' 15-man roster is full, so they can't sign another player at least until Lazar Hayward's 10-day contract expires next week. They will actively pursue a trade, or trades, between now and the Feb. 21 trading deadline, but likely lost one potential candidate when Cleveland's Anderson Varejao underwent surgery Wednesday. He will miss six to eight weeks.

Their best option just might be letting second-year forward Derrick Williams play and grow.

"We've just got to go with the guys we've got here in this room," Wolves point guard Luke Ridnour said before Wednesday's game. "That's kind of been the story all year with Kevin and a lot of other guys out, too. Our team has had to be resilient."

Love returned Wednesday to the same New York hand specialist he saw in October. Dr. Andy Weiland didn't deem surgery necessary when Love broke his hand the first time, and the team said then that Love would miss six to eight weeks.

He returned in five, but he injured his thumb on that hand and banged it several times during games in the six weeks since his November return.

This time, Love will have metal screws and a plate inserted into his right hand, just like he did after breaking his left hand in a 2009 preseason game. Both Wolves president David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman last week called the re-fracture a coincidence and said Love hadn't come back too soon the first time.

Dr. Steve Shin, a hand and wrist surgeon who treats Lakers and Clippers players at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and is not involved in Love's treatment or diagnosis, called the re-fracture "unfortunately bad luck." He also said the hand's healing the first time around could have been weakened by Love's fast return and decision to jettison a protective glove.

Love likely will return shortly after Budinger does in March. Budinger's surgeon told him Wednesday he is about two months away from playing.

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