Love ignores painful thumb and plays

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2012 - 1:22 AM

He missed the previous two games against the Lakers because of illness and injury.

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Lakers center Andrew Bynum battled Wolves forward Kevin Love Friday night at Staples Center.

Photo: Gus Ruelas, Associated Press

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LOS ANGELES — As hard as it might be to fathom ... Timberwolves two-time All-Star forward Kevin Love played against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

"Believe it," he said before Friday's game.

Love missed the past two games the two teams played -- sidelined by the flu at Staples Center last month and by back spasms at Target Center last week -- and his availability for Friday's game was in doubt again after he injured his thumb Thursday night at Utah.

Love came to the bench at the end of Thursday's third quarter clutching his thumb in pain. He returned midway through the fourth quarter and played the rest of the game, including overtime in a 111-105 loss, with that thumb taped.

X-rays taken after the game were normal and he started Friday night and played without the thumb taped because he didn't like how it affected his shooting Thursday.

"I was a little concerned about that," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said about watching Love land hard on that thumb. "I wasn't sure if he had just jammed it or what. At this stage, he's not someone you'd like to lose."

Especially six days after Ricky Rubio was lost for the season because a torn knee ligament, which will be repaired Wednesday in Vail, Colo., by renowned knee surgeon Richard Steadman.

"We didn't want it to be Ricky and me," said Love, who said he was immediately worried after he fell because he has broken the thumb a couple of times before and this felt like those times.

The truth comes out

What was Wolves forward Michael Beasley doing in those final minutes before Thursday's trade deadline when his fate was decided and the Wolves turned down a trade offer that would have sent him to the Lakers?

"I know exactly what I was doing: I watching Fanboy and Chum Chum, eating pizza, French fries and lemonade," he said, referring to a Nickelodeon cartoon and some of his favorite foods.

Beasley missed his second consecutive game Friday because of an injured toe sustained Monday in Phoenix. He said he expects to play Sunday at Sacramento.

If Beasley was going to get traded, the only place he really wanted to go was the Lakers.

Well, like, who wouldn't?

"Definitely," said Beasley, who nearly ended up there. "Not to say I don't like any other organization, but we all know this is my second organization. I don't know too much about other teams, but of every team that was spoken about, they're the only winning team. I don't see no point of getting traded and going to a losing team."

Don't prick Pek

Here's a word of advice: If you ever think about asking a guy who has a bed of skulls tattooed on his arm about a gift from the heavens that he turned into a crucial putback basket ... don't.

Somebody did that after Wolves center Nikola Pekovic turned Luke Ridnour's three-point airball into a layup that tied Thursday's game at Utah with 0.7 seconds and sent it to overtime when Paul Millsap missed a wide-open layup at the buzzer.

Usually smiley, Pekovic turned prickly at the question.

"A gift?" he asked. "You think that was a gift? A gift? I know, but I was fighting for position for, like, 20 seconds."

Moving on

Now that Thursday's NBA trade deadline has passed, players can go back to work owning some peace of mind about their futures. The coach, too, can go forward.

"We're done with it now, we don't need to keep speculating," Adelman said. "This is the group we're going to have these last 20-plus games. You can't wait for something to happen to make your team better, you just have to coach the people who are there. Now you know who they are and the players know and we have to find a way to get on a roll these last 20 games.

"I've always had that philosophy. You can't wish for something else. You coach the guys you have to coach."

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