INDIANAPOLIS – Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman was in no mood Wednesday evening to talk about the latest injury news to hit his team, and he wasn’t feeling a whole lot better after a 107-91 loss at Indiana, either.
Earlier Wednesday, Adelman and the Wolves learned that two-time All-Star Kevin Love must wait at least another two to three weeks before he is cleared for contact practice, the next crucial step toward him playing again in this dwindling season.
Love visited the New York City surgeon who repaired his broken right shooting hand in January and learned Wednesday that he needs to be evaluated again in late March or early April while he continues to let his hand heal.
That will leave the clock tick, tick, ticking on an injury-ravaged season that has just 20 games remaining and ends April 17 in San Antonio.
“I’m not talking about injuries again,” Adelman told reporters. “I’m tired talking about injuries. I don’t know anything more than you guys do. I just found out myself, so I just deal with the people we have playing, those nine guys and go from there.
“What else are you going to do? I really don’t know what’s going with those guys and when they’ll be back. You can’t just keep thinking about it.”
So the Wolves played on without Love and starters Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko as well as Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee.
On Tuesday, the Wolves shocked a San Antonio team that was missing starters Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, beating a team with the league’s second-best record by 24 points with their three-point shooting, precise ball movement and Ricky Rubio’s first NBA triple-double.
On Wednesday, they discovered that the Pacers present a big problem that the undermanned and undersized Spurs didn’t: 7-3 center Roy Hibbert.
Wolves backup center Chris Johnson blocked six shots — five of them in a decisive second quarter — and Greg Stiemsma had one more and altered others against the Spurs.
Adelman promised before Wednesday’s game that a night in Indiana would be far different, and Hibbert proved him right with a 27-point, 17-rebound, four-block night. The Wolves never led and trailed by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a big guy, a load inside,” Stiemsma said. “I thought we did all right on him, but he still got his numbers up. He’s a tough guy to not let him do what he wants.”
The Wolves could have used Pekovic — who has missed the past seven games because of an abdominal strain — against Hibbert, who doesn’t much like Pekovic’s physical presence.
“Nobody pushes Pek around,” Stiemsma said.
Until then, Stiemsma and his teammates wait for Kirilenko and Pekovic to return first, followed by Budinger and then Love, if indeed Love plays again this season.
“It’d be great to get everybody back on the court for the last 10, five games just to get a sense of chemistry together,” Budinger said, “more so for the fans to see what this team could have been like this year. It’d be great for us players just to get everybody out there healthy.”
Rubio followed Tuesday’s triple-double with a 21-point, 10-assist, six-rebound, three-steal night as he and Luke Ridnour (17 points) tried to keep the Wolves within sight.
“Without Kevin, it’s hard,” Rubio said. “Of course, we’re missing him, but we’re the players that we are. We’ve been doing this all year long, playing the players able to play. We need him, yeah, but I mean first of all he has to get healthy.”