The Minnesota Timberwolves fell apart last season after Ricky Rubio went down with an injury. How they'll fare with both him and star Kevin Love sidelined to begin the 2012-13 campaign remains to be seen.
Brandon Roy and a host of newcomers make their team debuts Friday night when Minnesota hosts the Sacramento Kings, who will look to clean up their play after dropping their opener.
The Timberwolves were 21-19 and tied for the Western Conference's final playoff spot heading into their March 9 game against the Los Angeles Lakers before Rubio tore his left ACL in the final seconds of a 105-102 loss.
Minnesota proceeded to drop 20 of its last 25 to finish 26-40, its seventh consecutive losing season. Rubio won't be back until at least mid-December, and the team received more bad news when Love broke his hand doing an in-home workout Oct. 17.
Love finished fourth in the NBA with 26.0 points per game while placing second with an average of 13.3 rebounds last season, but he'll miss at least the first month.
"It is a big hole in our lineup, but we have guys that are going to commit to do their job, and we have to find a way to win," coach Rick Adelman said. "That's just the way it is. A lot of teams are facing the same thing. We are no different."
Love said he still plans to be around the Timberwolves while he rehabs.
"I'm going to stay in shape as much as I can, and I'm just going to continue to stay with the team and keep being a leader," he said.
Roy is no stranger to battling through injuries after the three-time All-Star for Portland was forced to retire prior to last season due to multiple knee problems.
Minnesota, though, decided to take a chance when Roy began his comeback, signing him to a two-year, $10.4 million deal. The Timberwolves also added former Utah standout Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson in the offseason.
"You don't ever have to apologize for an injury. He didn't want this," Roy said of Love. "It's just our job to do the best we can early in the year and try to stay above float, because you know when we get him back we've got a really good team."
Sacramento coach Keith Smart believes he has a solid squad as well, though it committed 21 turnovers in a 93-87 loss at Chicago on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans scored a team-high 21 points while Marcus Thornton added 15 off the bench and DeMarcus Cousins finished with 14.
"I'm still proud of our guys because I thought they withstood a lot of things that happened on the floor," Smart said. "We gave up 25 points off turnovers. If we cut that in half, we have a good opportunity to win the game.
"If we just continue to duplicate what we did here, we can be a team that has a lot of success this year."
The Kings, though, will need to cut down on miscues going forward after committing nearly seven more turnovers than last year's 14.4 average.
"Unacceptable," Thornton said. "I know it was our first game, but we can't use that as an excuse."
Evans scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 116-108 home win over Minnesota on April 2 to earn a split in the four-game season series.
- Sports & Recreation
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Ricky Rubio
- Brandon Roy
- Sacramento Kings