Love's hand is healing; shot still hurting

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2012 - 12:48 AM

BOSTON - Kevin Love's right hand still doesn't feel right.

On Wednesday, Love played his eighth game since returning from two broken bones in the hand. He led his team with 19 points and 13 rebounds. But it took him 15 shots to score those 19 points. And, on a night when the Wolves missed 16 of 30 free throws, Love went 6-for-12 from the line.

After the game, Love said the healing hand is giving his shot all kinds of trouble.

"A lot of this is me getting my legs back, getting in the weight room. But when I shoot, it feels like the ball is coming off the outside of my hand, rather than these two fingers like I like it," Love said, pointing to the index and middle fingers on his right hand.

"It's something that will give eventually," he continued. "I still feel confident shooting it. I'll still shoot those shots. Eventually it will get there, it will just take time."

In his eight games this season Love is shooting 36.1 percent from the field, 26.4 percent on three-pointers and 64.3 percent from the free-throw line.

His career numbers in those areas are, respectively, 45.7 percent, 37.2 percent and 82.3 percent.

Part of the problem, Love said, is general conditioning. But the biggest problem is the feel of his shot.

"I think it's touch," he said. "I've been shooting the ball 18 years of my life now. It's just the hand being so idle, having to strengthen it. Getting the ball to feel right in my hand has been such a struggle since getting back on the court a couple weeks ago. It's definitely a struggle right now, on top of just being fatigued, having to get my legs back. It's been tough."

Welcome back

Wolves backup center Greg Stiemsma was greeted by a mob of reporters on his first game back in Boston, the city where he got his NBA career going. Stiemsma, who had played all around the world, made it onto the Boston roster last year and carved out a role as a strong defender off the bench.

Still, he was taken aback by the number of folks at his locker before the game.

"I think this is a first," he said.

Stiemsma averaged 2.9 points per game for Boston last season. For the Wolves this season, was averaging 3.5 points, one-plus blocks and 2.5 rebounds entering Wednesday's game. He scored two points and blocked two shots against the Celtics.

Stiemsma signed with the Wolves during the offseason after the Celtics couldn't afford to match Minnesota's offer.

Still the return evoked good memories. "I'm very grateful for the opportunity that I was given here," he said.

Kevin vs. Kevin

It might not have had the drama of Boston's visit to the Target Center last spring, but Love and Kevin Garnett squared off again Wednesday.

Love had his double-double while Garnett, who started fast, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own.

Garnett made eight of 13 shots while playing tough defense on Love. Or, as Love put it, "being Kevin Garnett."

Afterward there was nothing but kind words from both fellows.

Love on Garnett: "He's a guy that defensively he'll clamp down on you. ... He does whatever he needs to do in order for his team to win."

Garnett on Love: "They were obviously on a back-to-back, but a very good team. I think Kevin Love has a better cast over there."

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