The Wolves lost for the 17th time in 19 games, and the second straight since they ended that 15-game losing streak Sunday in Denver.

Friday was the night Kevin Love returned to the lineup for the first time this regular season, the first time since he broke his left hand in a preseason game at Chicago on Oct. 16.

He played half the game -- a 24-minute performance he said was at least 10 more than he thought it'd play.

He got a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds), just like he did 29 times a year ago in his rookie season.

He was the first guy off the bench midway through the first quarter.

By then, his team already trailed 16-6. With Love on the floor, the Wolves reversed course with a 12-2 run of their own that got them back into a tie.

By late in the second quarter, they led by as many as 11 points.

That is until Hornets All Star point guard Chris Paul, back in the lineup after missing eight games because of a sprained ankle, orchestrated a closing 9-0 run in the first half's final 55 seconds that helped change everything.

Included were three free throws with a tenth of a second left after he fooled Ryan Hollins and the refs into a shooting foul near midcourt just before the half expired.

From there, the Hornets produced a 28-16 third quarter (yep, third quarter gets the Wolves again) that pushed the game out of reach.

Love played all night with that padded offensive lineman's glove to protect the back of his hand. He said he was both encouraged and relieved after he fell hard, whacked his hand and wrist on the floor and got up without incident.

"That shocked me a little bit, but actually I needed that a little bit," he said.

He said he was anxious to see how his body feels when wakes up Saturday morning.

"It's fine, it's great," he said, flexing his hand after the game without pain. "The glove felt good. I might have a new trademark. Some people have the facemask. Some people have the headband. Some people have the arm sleeve. I've got the glove."

The Wolves flew home after tonight's game and play the Jazz Saturday night at Target Center.

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