The Wolves have a familiar void to fill: They lost forward Kevin Love for five weeks after he fractured the same hand in October.
That growing, if still limited, segment of Timberwolves Nation now will get the answer to this burning question: Isn't their team really better off without its best player, two-time All-Star Kevin Love?
An MRI Saturday afternoon revealed Love has refractured that right shooting hand he broke in October, and again he will be sidelined for weeks.
Love will visit the same New York City hand specialist this week he saw in October. Dr. Andy Weiland will determine whether surgery on that fractured third metacarpal bone is needed and how many weeks Love likely will miss.
Surgery wasn't required in October, when Love broke both the third and fourth metacarpal bones. At the time, the Wolves said he'd miss six to eight weeks, and he returned to play in five.
Love left Thursday's game at Denver in the third quarter after hitting his hand and suffering an injury the team called a sprained finger after X-rays taken at the arena came back looking normal.
Trailing by 10 points at the time, the Wolves rallied to beat a Nuggets team that had only been beaten by Miami at home so far this season. The unexpected Wolves victory led fans unhappy with Love's Yahoo!Sports interview last month to claim the Wolves' defense and ball movement both are better without him.
"Yeah, right," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "You don't replace someone like that. You might be able to do it over a quarter and a half, but you try to do it over a five-week period and it becomes a different animal. ... They should try coaching a team without him."
Love struggled through injuries, illness, his shooting and the backlash from that Yahoo! interview during his first 18 games this season and still is averaging 18.3 points and 14 rebounds. He played 23 1/2 minutes before getting injured Thursday and left the game with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Love's re-fractured hand is the latest in a long list of injuries that have hit the Wolves during a season that started with both Ricky Rubio and Love injured. Later, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee, Andrei Kirilenko, J.J. Barea and Josh Howard went down.
"I've never been through anything like this," said Adelman, who coached a Wolves team missing both Love and Rubio on Saturday night against Portland. "We're 15-14 and I'm trying to figure out how we were able to get there. But you know, this team does have a resolve about them. Whatever happens, they come to practice, they come to games, they just do their job. You hope you have enough talent and enough going on that you can win games."
The Wolves were 6-5 when playing without Love this season entering Saturday's game.
"He's our star player," Barea said. "He's maybe not having the best season, like last season. But he's our star. To go where we want to go, we need Kevin to be Kevin."
Saturday's news comes 10 weeks after Love said he broke that right hand while doing knuckle pushups working out at his condo before practice one morning.
He injured his right thumb and banged that hand more than once this season.
When asked if he thought Love returned too soon and if the team might be more conservative this time around, Adelman said: "I don't think he came back too soon. It's one of those things. What can do you? It's a broken hand."
Then Adelman laughed and saw the proverbial silver lining.
"At least he doesn't have to answer all the questions about how he did it," Adelman said. "Everybody saw it. That's one good thing we don't have to worry about again."
Adelman said he expected Love to miss some time when he saw how swollen the hand was after Thursday's game.
"But I didn't expect it to be another broken hand," he said.
Adelman started Dante Cunningham in Love's power- forward spot and brought Derrick Williams off the bench. Both players will be asked to do more.
"When someone like that goes out again, we're putting people in positions they're not really used to doing," Adelman said. "And now you're moving someone else to take over their responsibility. The whole thing shifts. We're going to have to find a way. And it's not just his position. It's everyone on the team that has to find a way."
|NY Mets - LP: J. Hefner||2||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: S. Feldman||8|
|Seattle - LP: O. Perez||4||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Perez||5|
|Toronto - LP: B. Morrow||2||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps||7|
|Cincinnati - WP: B. Arroyo||10||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick||0|
|Chicago WSox - LP: N. Jones||9||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: R. Coello||12|
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|Houston - WP: J. Cisnero||4||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Morris||2|
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|Atlanta - WP: C. Gearrin||3|
|Boston - WP: C. Breslow||12||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: S. Diamond||5|
|Arizona - WP: B. McCarthy||1||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: T. Koehler||0|
|Milwaukee - WP: J. Axford||6||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly||4|
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|Texas - WP: J. Grimm||7|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Lincecum||2||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: T. Chatwood||10|
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|San Diego - WP: E. Stults||2|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||1||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: T. Milone||2|