From Comcast SportsNetMINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Love returned from the London Olympics determined to do what every veteran U.S. teammate of his had already done -- lead his team to the playoffs.The Minnesota Timberwolves will likely have tobeginthe first month of that pursuit without him.The two-time All-Star broke his right hand in a morning workout Wednesday and will miss six to eight weeks.Love broke the third and fourth metacarpals on his shooting hand in a workout before practice. It's a crushing blow to the Timberwolves, who already will be without star point guard Ricky Rubio for what is expected to be at least the first six weeks of the regular season while he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee.The Timberwolves open the regular season athomeagainst Sacramento on Nov. 2.Team owner Glen Taylor, speaking to reporters at halftime of the WNBA finals game, acknowledged his initial "why us?" feeling when he first heard the news in the morning. But he tried to keep a positive attitude about the situation, expressing hope that Love will only miss a month of the regular season and confidence that Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham will take advantage of the extra playing time to help the Wolves for the future."I think all of our fans anticipated this season with great enthusiasm. We knew we were going to have to wait for Ricky, and now we have two guys to wait for," Taylor said, adding: "But again, I'm going to be positive about it and say we've got some young guys and let's see themstepup."All the work David Kahn and the rest of the front office did to add veteran depth this summer is about to be tested more than they ever could have imagined.Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds last season, leading the team in both categories and emerging as the best power forward in the game. He signed a four-year contract in January worth more than 60 million, then played a key role in the United States' march to the gold medal in London.As the only NBA veteran on Team USA who had yet to appear in the playoffs, Love came back brimming with confidence that this was the year the Wolves would break through for the first time since 2004. That already was going to be a challenge in the powerful Western Conference without Rubio, the dynamic point guard who quickly became the glue that held this young team together before injuring his knee in a game against the Lakers on March 9.But with veteran additions Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma and Cunningham, Love was convinced they would be able to weather playing without Rubio better than last season, when they lost 20 of their last 25 games after he went down."We have a great training camp and we can get off to a good start and guys stay healthy, there's really no telling what we can do," Love said just before training camp opened. "I know a lot of teams in the Western Conference have loaded up, but I still feel we can knock those teams off and have a really good year."Two weeks before the season has even started, the wishes for goodhealthare already out the window. Love, who scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a preseason win over Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday night, was scheduled to fly to New York for an examination by Dr. Andy Weiland on Thursday.He had a similar injury to his left hand in mid-October of 2009 and wound upmissingthe first 18 games of the regular season.The injury likely means more playing time for Williams, last year's second overall pick. With Love at power forward, Williams worked diligently to lose some weight, reshape his body and work on his ball-handling to try to earn more minutes at small forward.Williams has always been more comfortable at power forward, so this could be the opportunity for him to make a consistent impact that coach Rick Adelman has been waiting to see from him. Williams impressed coaches with his physical conditioning and aggressive approach to practice when training camp began, but the playing time has still been sporadic.He played just seven minutes Tuesday night against Haifa while Adelman took longer looks at the starting unit and Cunningham off the bench at power forward. Cunningham and Lou Amundson have both impressed Adelman with their tenacity and aggressiveness both in games and during practice."I think he's really an energy guy," Adelman has said about Cunningham. "Very good defender. Does all the little things. Him and Lou are very similar. The things that maybe we didn't do so well last year, running down loose balls, getting to the offensive boards, keeping the boards alive."Adelman also has the versatile Kirilenko, who can play both forward positions, to lean on. He could choose to slide Kirilenko to power forward and use Chase Budinger at the small forward in another starting lineup.Love's absence will also put more pressure on veteran shooting guard Brandon Roy's knees to hold up. Roy was signed in the offseason after missing last year with chronic knee issues. He has held up very well so far in the preseason, and his scoring now becomes even more crucial to fill Love's void.Taylor said he didn't know any more specifics about how Love was hurt. He said "all options are open" for adding another player to the roster to fill in for now.
MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:
1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.
That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.
“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”
The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.
Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.
Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.
“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”
2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot
The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.
Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.
That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.
“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.
The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.
It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.
3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode
Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.
He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.
The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.
“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”
The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.
Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.
MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.
You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.
The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.
“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”
"They’ve done a nice job for us the last couple of years. If this was a road game I’d enjoy it.”— Raiders on NBCS (@NBCSRaiders) November 20, 2017
Del Rio on playing in Mexico City ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/JsbZU4xGKq
Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.
The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.
The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.
It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.
The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.
“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”
This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.
It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.
“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”