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Updated: March 9th, 2012 11:25pm
Kevin Love-less Wolves fall to Lakers; Ricky Rubio to have MRI on knee

Kevin Love-less Wolves fall to Lakers; Ricky Rubio to have MRI on knee

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves lost their 18th straight game to the Los Angeles Lakers 105-102 on Friday night at Target Center, and they may have lost something much more important, too.

The Wolves were without Kevin Love for the entire game because of back spasms and played the last 16.4 seconds without Ricky Rubio, who had to be helped off the court with a knee injury.

Coach Rick Adelman was mum on Rubio's injury after the game, saying only that it was an issue with his left knee and would be further evaluated (Saturday).

"I don't even know what he did," Adelman said.

Rubio was seen walking under his own power in locker room after the game but was sporting a serious limp and appeared to be in great pain. He posted on Twitter he will have an MRI on Saturday.

Love was listed as doubtful for the game with back spasms, but he never made it out to the court. Adelman said his back began acting up in practice the day before but wouldn't add much details to the situation.

"(Love's back) wasn't good (Thursday)," Adelman said. "He fell down in the game Wednesday and he felt sore (Friday). Hopefully, he will get better before the game (Saturday), but we wanted to play it safe."

Michael Beasley confirmed he found out just minutes before the game that Love wasn't going to be playing.

Love and Rubio weren't made available to the media following the loss and both are in question for Saturday's game against the New Orleans Hornets.

No teammates were looking to speculate much on the Rubio's health in a locker room that was as quiet as it has been joyous during the five-game home winning streak that was snapped by the Lakers.

"We'll see," Luke Ridnour said

The skinny

The Wolves led by as many as 14 and appeared to be in control for the better part of three quarters, but they couldn't get the basket they needed with 5.8 seconds left.

After Kobe Bryant hit a pair of free throws to take a 103-102 lead, the Wolves had the ball at half-court with an opportunity to win the game. But Derrick Williams got his shot blocked and Bryant came up with the loose ball to ice the game and add another Wolves notch to his belt.

"I thought I did a pretty good move," Williams said, "but sometimes, it doesn't go your way."

There appeared to be contact on the play, but Williams didn't get the call and Adelman dodged a question about whether there was contact.

"Does it matter?" Adelman said.

The Wolves sure didn't miss Love in the first quarter. It took them over two minutes to score, but once they did, they practically never stopped, building a 26-12 lead with 2:21 remaining in the frame.

The Lakers showed their road rust from two ugly losses at Detroit and Washington the past two games, turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter alone.

The Wolves needed someone to pick up the slack for Love's 25.4 point and 13.7 rebounds per game. And it was Nikola Pekovic and Williams who answered the call.

"If Kevin is not here than everybody needs to step up," Pekovic said.

Pekovic, who returned after a two-game absence with an inflamed foot, scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the loss.

Pekovic had better numbers, but it was Williams who once again showed why he was worth the No. 2 overall pick, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.

"I thought D-Will came out of his shell and carried us," Beasley said.

Before being injured, Rubio had a double-double of his own, scoring 15 points and dishing 10 assists in 39 minutes.

"He played well," Adelman said. "Everybody who played, played well."

But the Lakers flexed their muscles when they needed to and got away from Target Center with a win after two straight ugly road loses. Bryant scored 34 points and hit the clutch free throws when he needed to. Andrew Bynum hauled a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

"We showed that we can step up (without Love)," Pekovic said.

Turning point

The game could have been considered over when it was announced Love wasn't starting 20 minutes prior to tip.

"We held our own and gave ourselves a chance to win it," Beasley said.

Numbers game

29,000: Career points for Bryant after he scored reaching 12 points midway through the first half.

7: Sellouts this season after 20,164 fans showed up to Target Center.

Injury report

J.J. Barea sat out the game with a sprained ankle and confirmed he will be out for Saturday's game against the Hornets as well.

Barea was more optimistic than he was after Wednesday's win over the Clippers when he sprained his right ankle -- the second time in the season he has turned that one.

"I woke up and it felt much better," Barea said.

He worked out before the game and sad his plan is it to attempt to run it Saturday with the assumption being that he'll be ready to go


"If he was, he'd be starting."
-- Adelman, when asked whether the swirling trade rumors around Pau Gasol had him in the Wolves locker room.

Up next

The Wolves have one more home game left in their four-game set at Target Center on Saturday against the New Orleans.

This is the second of three meetings with the Hornets (9-30). The Wolves won the first meeting 87-80 on Jan. 13 in a game Love scored 34 points and ripped 15 boards.

From there, it is gut-check time for the Wolves as they hit the road for a two-week, seven-game road trip starting Monday night against the Phoenix Suns. They already lost there once this month.

The road trip also has stops in Phoenix, Utah, Los Angeles (Lakers), Sacramento, Golden State, San Antonio and finally at Oklahoma City.

"That will determine what kind of team we are," Adelman said.