Timberwolves forward Kevin Love returned to action on Wednesday with all the blood gone from his poked eye and without protective goggles and the accompanying sky hook that must accompany them.

He also came back after missing Sunday's 94-91 loss at New York with something of a New Year's resolution six days early.

"Back tonight and hopefully in 2013, and heading forward there will be no more flu-like symptoms or nagging injuries for me and the rest of the team," he said.

Love has missed 12 of the team's first 26 games because of everything ranging from a broken hand to the aforementioned flu-like symptoms to that poked eye with which doctors didn't want him to fly.

Love had seven points and 12 rebounds in 36 minutes Wednesday.

Ricky's next step

The Wolves' medical staff gave point guard Ricky Rubio and coach Rick Adelman approval to increase his playing time from the 18-minute limit imposed his first four games back from knee surgery.

And Adelman said that change -- to as many as 24 minutes -- brings about a set of challenges.

"I don't know how you do this," Adelman said. "It actually becomes tougher because I've been playing him in eight- or nine-minute stretches. If he goes to 20, 22 or 24, you're just jerking people in and out of the lineup. It's something I'm just going to have to deal with."

Rubio played 21 1/2 minutes Wednesday.

Help wanted

The Wolves had former San Antonio forward James Anderson and former NBA forward Joey Graham in for workouts Wednesday in their search for a defensive-minded swingman to replace injured and waived Josh Howard.

Anderson, a 2010 first-round pick, was waived recently by the Spurs. Graham has played six seasons with Toronto, Denver and Cleveland. They've also worked out former Wolves forward Lazar Hayward and are interested in forward Mickael Gelabale, a member of the French Olympic team playing in Spain who has an NBA-out in his contract through Jan. 30.

Heavy hearts

Former Timberwolves executive and Houston coach Kevin McHale returned to Target Center on Wednesday for the first time since his daughter Sasha died at age 23 last month from lupus-related complications.

"It's just really sad," Love said. "I'll give him a big hug, tell him sorry for the loss and go out and try to kick his team's butt."


• Injured swingman Chase Budinger was in the locker room Wednesday night, back from 10 days rehabilitating with his college trainer at the University of Arizona and Christmas spent at home in San Diego. He had surgery in November to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. His return? "March hopefully," he said, "but who knows?"

• Starting center Nikola Pekovic left the game in the second quarter because he felt ill but returned near the end of the third quarter. He played 23 minutes, made one of seven shots and had two points and seven rebounds.