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Are Injuries Going to Take Down the Minnesota Timberwolves Again This Year?

Injuries to Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, and Nikola Pekovic Are Devastating

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | There was a moment early in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 106-97 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder that I thought, "Hey, maybe the Wolves will be fine if Kevin Love leaves."

Dante Cunningham, Ronny Turiaf and the team hung with Kevin Durant and the Thunder for three quarters without their superstar power forward, only to peter out in the fourth.

Love, of course, has gotten beat up lately. He took a hard fall against the Los Angeles Lakers and had to sit out the Oklahoma City game because of a stiff neck. He returned for the game against the New Orleans Pelicans, only to be injured by former Timberwolves forward Greg Stiemsma in a 98-91 loss. As tough as Love is, and he's proven he can play through pain, there was no way he was going to play against the Thunder, even though it was a big division game.

Even with Love's injury history -- he only played 18 games last season because of a broken hand -- teams in big markets, especially the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers, will court him. The Lakers are going to look awfully attractive to the nephew of Mike Love, a member of the Beach Boys, and the boyfriend of Los Angeles-born supermodel Cody Horn.

It also doesn't help that Love had to endure the David Kahn years and plays for an owner who does not think he is a superstar. But lo and behold, the Wolves need Love -- more than Love needs the Wolves.

Furthermore, the Wolves need Nikola Pekovic, who was in a suit and tie for all three losses, as well as Kevin Martin, who injured his thumb in a 117-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. It really is amazing that Minnesota got that close to the upstart Blazers, given that Love, Martin, and Pekovic -- three of the team's starters -- were injured. Regardless of the team's valiant effort, the Timberwolves are below .500 and have a tough slew of games ahead against the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns.

Those are going to be awful tough to win without key players like Love, Martin, and Pekovic. We've heard this story before: The Wolves get a rash of injuries, go on a losing streak, and everyone becomes increasingly convinced that Kevin Love is going to be California Love before you can say "knuckle pushups."

Let it be known, sports fans, that the Timberwolves Torture Cycle has been renewed. Minnesota will now be playing its home games on Mount Sisyphus and Timberwolves Nation is subjected to watch this team push toward .500, only to see it drop below as soon as it has a winning record. Every new Timberwolves season is like Groundhog Day, except Phil never gets together with Rita. It's like BioShock except you never kill Comstock: "Bring us Crunch and wipe away the losing seasons!"

I'm convinced it's karma. It's karma for trading Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury and Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. It's karma for dealing Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics. It's karma for drafting Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson instead of Steph Curry and Paul George. It's karma for signing Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley.

And yet we all love the Wolves because they're like us: flawed.

It's because of the belief that despite all this, the Wolves can somehow make a recovery, qualify for the playoffs, and keep Love in the great white north. It's the belief that things are close to turning around. It's the belief that Flip Saunders, a remnant from Minnesota's playoff days, can erase the ghosts of David Kahn's past.

Until then, Wolves fans will have to repeat Uncle Mike's famous lyrics: "I'm Waiting for the Day."

Tom Schreier writes about the Twins, Wild, and Wolves for Yahoo Contributor Network. He previously covered Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and can be heard on 105 The Ticket in the Twin Cities. Follow him on Twitter @tschreier3.

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