MINNEAPOLIS — A year ago Thursday, Kevin Love crouched on his clenched fists, straightened his back, and accidentally cost himself most of the 2012-13 NBA season.
It was Oct. 17, 2012 that those famed knuckle pushups broke the ring and middle fingers on his right hand. He would go on to play in only 18 games, reinjuring one of the digits and opting to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that negated any chance he may have had of finishing the season.
To be charting 3-point attempts and working on elbow moves after practice like he did Thursday, then, is considered a blessing.
“I feel great,” the 2011 and 2012 All-Star power forward said. “I’m ready to play, and please give me a full 82-game slate.”
Love returned for training camp carrying bitter disappointment over his lost season — he expressed his displeasure with discussing 2012-13 to the media on multiple occasions. But four preseason games and more than two weeks back with his teammates appear to have replaced angst with enthusiasm.
He’s enjoying himself, even with coach Rick Adelman chastising the team for slow starts and putting it through the grind of what amounts to a second training camp this week.
It starts with a reunion among Love, point guard Ricky Rubio and big man Nikola Pekovic.
“It’s a lot of fun to be out there with Ricky and Pek again,” Love said. “It’s good to be back out there with guys I wasn’t able to play with last year. It’s just fun.”
With limited minutes in exhibition play serving as the only external barometer, Love appears to be finding a rhythm less than two weeks from opening night. Saturday’s loss to Toronto was his best individual showing to date — 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes, 7 seconds of work.
But he takes part of the blame for Minnesota’s sluggish starts in its home preseason games. That’s been one point of emphasis during three practices this week.
So has making sure the reserves and scrubs don’t control tempo like they did during camp in Mankato.
“We’ve taken a step forward every day, and really, instead of the second unit kicking our butt, we’re kicking their butt, so that feels good,” Love said. “Our first game, we were incredibly rusty, our first few games. We really have to pick it up as the first quarter goes, but we’ve been working on that. That shows in practice with the first unit.”
Bonjour, Loups: That’d be French for “Hello, Wolves,” and Minnesota will be hearing a lot of it upon arriving in Montreal for Sunday’s exhibition matchup with Boston.
The Timberwolves have two French speakers on the roster: centers Ronny Turiaf and Gorgui Dieng.
It’s likely the latter will do most of the translating; French is Turiaf’s native tongue after growing up on the French-territory Caribbean island of Martinique.
“It’s always fun to go somewhere where you are very familiar with the language,” Turiaf said. “I’m looking forward to going to a French-speaking province and having some fun there.”
“Les Loups” will fly Saturday to Quebec. Their clash against the Celtics, part of the NBA’s Canadian Series, tips off at 5 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on NBA-TV.
Budinger still out indefinitely: Minnesota has yet to receive a timeline for injured forward Chase Budinger’s return, Adelman said after practice Thursday.
Budinger underwent surgery to remove the meniscus in his left knee Oct. 1. A procedure to repair the same meniscus last season kept him out for three months and 59 games.
The expected recovery time for removal of the meniscus is shorter than that for repairing it. But the Timberwolves still don’t know when they’ll get their 6-foot-7, 218-pound small forward back.
Budinger re-signed with Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent this past summer for three years and $15 million and was expected to contend for a starting job.