Created: 10/18/2012 10:36 PM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen
The Minnesota Timberwolves got a bit of good news Thursday when doctors told All-Star Kevin Love that he wouldn't need surgery on his broken right hand.
The bad news is they still have to figure out a way to replace his 26 points and 13 rebounds a game for the next six to eight weeks.
Love said in a statement Thursday that he broke his right hand while doing knuckle push-ups the day before in a pre-practice workout. The injury means the Wolves will be without their two best players - point guard Ricky Rubio isn't expected back until mid-December at the earliest because of a torn ACL in his left knee - for the first month of the regular season, and possibly longer.
"Although I'm disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible," Love said.
The situation is similar to what Wolves coach Rick Adelman had to deal with in Houston, when he lost stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming for extended stretches.
"I was just shocked," Adelman said when he was told of Love's injury. "I couldn't believe it. Here we're trying to get ready and then we have something like this happen. I learned a long time ago. I've had so many injuries to good players, I've started to think maybe it's me."
Adelman chuckled just a bit after uttering those words, but figuring out how to move on without his leading scorer and rebounder and without getting buried isn't going to be easy.
His options, however, are many. Starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko can move to the power forward against some teams, with Dante Cunningham, Lou Amundson and Derrick Williams also available to fill in.
If anyone thought it was Williams' spot by default, Adelman shot that down Thursday.
"Why would people assume that?" Adelman asked. "He's certainly one of the guys that has to play there, but it's going to be him, Dante, Lou, Andrei may play some there. That's what we're going to have to find out the next three games and the practices, what's the best way to go."
Williams spent most of the summer reshaping his body and working on his ball-handling so he could earn more minutes at small forward with Love getting the bulk of the time at power forward. But he has done some of his best work at power forward, including a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against the Lakers on March 9 when Love couldn't play because of back spasms.
"I think it's a big opportunity for myself as well as DC and a few of the other guys on our team that can play multiple positions," Williams said. "It really does (stink). He's a two-time All-Star and the best player on our team. We're just going to have to do without him, same without Ricky. We can't make any excuses."
Williams impressed the coaches with his work ethic and aggressiveness early in training camp, but Adelman still wants to see more consistency from the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft.
"It can't be one night, one game someone plays well and two games later he doesn't do anything and he gets lost out there," Adelman said. "I'm looking for consistency from all those guys."
Adelman was able to lead the Rockets to the playoffs when McGrady and Yao were injured, and the Timberwolves maintain that remains the goal in Minnesota this season.
"I'm hoping our guys respond like the guys in Houston did," he said. "We can still win and we can still be successful. We just have to find out how we're going to do it. Guys have to step up."
The Wolves have three more preseason games before opening the regular season at home against Sacramento on Nov. 2.
Adelman will spend that time exploring different combinations and lineups to try to find the right mix.
"He's obviously a big piece of our puzzle," Cunningham said. "Right now we're dealing with a team coming together. For him to go down right now is definitely a blow to our team. But we're going to pick it up and move forward."
If Adelman has his way, all workouts going forward will be push-up-free.
"I think that should be taken out of the repertoire for sure," he cracked. "In fact, all push-ups. Anything to do with the hands. I looked over and saw Ricky doing push-ups after I heard about it. I said, 'No, let's stop there.'"
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