From Comcast SportsNetMINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to chase down their first playoff berth since 2004, they're going to have to do most of the work without Kevin Love.Unfortunately for this hard-luck franchise, they know what it feels like to play without their All-Star and Olympian.Love will miss the next eight to 10 weeks after needing surgery to repair a right hand that is broken for the second time this season, the team announced on Wednesday.It's the latest in a long line of injuries to Minnesota's key players that have threatened to derail a season which started with postseason aspirations. It's also the latest chapter in what has been a nightmare season for Love in the first year of the 62 million contract extension he signed last January.Love missed the first three weeks of the regular season after breaking his right hand in the preseason. He returned faster than most expected, played for about a month and then broke two bones in his shooting hand in a game last week against Denver. The team said a date for the surgery would be announced Thursday."We're going to miss him a lot, but there's nothing we can do about that right now," point guard Ricky Rubio said Tuesday night before knowing the full extent of Love's injury. "We just have to keep moving forward."The timeframe would put Love back on the court possibly around mid-March, about a month before the playoffs begin. The Wolves (16-15) started the day in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot out of the playoff field.Love was averaging 18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds after helping Team USA to the gold medal in the London Olympics, but he hasn't been the same player who emerged as the best power forward in the game last year.Needing more time to rest after the Olympic grind, Love showed up to training camp knowing he would need to push himself to get into the shape he was accustomed to playing in. That process was halted late in the preseason when he injured his hand the first time, a break that didn't need surgery and allowed him to return about 10 days earlier than expected.Once he was back in the lineup, Love struggled to recapture the shooting form that made him such a unique problem for opposing defenses. He was shooting just 21.7 percent from 3-point range and 35 percent from the field, with his hand not allowing him to get the feel on his shot."I think this time, he needs to do it right, to recover fully, recover all the way to the end," center Nikola Pekovic said before the team played Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. "The last time, the previous time he got hurt, he kind of hurried. So maybe, I'm not a doctor, I don't know. Maybe that's the reason: it's not healed all the way. I'm sure this time he'll heal it up all the way."Love also drew scorn from a Timberwolves fan base that had adored him shortly after returning when he made some critical remarks about the organization to Yahoo! Sports and renewed his complaints about getting a four-year contract and not the five-year deal that he wanted.Now the Wolves will have to play on without him again.They've also lost Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Josh Howard to knee injuries this season and been slowed by Rubio's gradual return from a torn ACL in his left knee last March. Rubio returned for five games in mid-December, but had to sit out four games with back spasms, as well, and said after dishing out eight assists in a win over the Hawks on Tuesday night that he's still working to get his conditioning back up to speed.Nikola Pekovic, J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour have also been dealing with minor injuries, a run of health issues that has left coach Rick Adelman without a full bench for almost the entire season.Even Adelman has been absent lately, missing the last two games for personal reasons. It's not immediately clear when the coach will rejoin his team."The NBA doesn't stop for us," said assistant Terry Porter, who is filling in for Adelman. "I wish I could make it stop and just twist the schedules a little bit. I don't want to stop seeing somebody but I just want to re-shift when we see them. Like OKC, we want to see them in March maybe."
The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.
1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”
2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.
3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 26 of 28 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”
4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”
5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.