Nationals

Love's broken hand 'pretty much a freak accident'

Love's broken hand 'pretty much a freak accident'

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Love's face stayed straight the entire time. Asked repeatedly about the source of his broken right hand, the Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star insisted the story about knuckle push-ups gone wrong was true.

Even Love, though, understood the skepticism.

``I've heard everything,'' Love said. ``But this isn't TMZ. This isn't People Magazine. I think most people are just looking for a story. For me, I know what happened. I'm not trying to get around it. I'm not trying to lie. That's just what happened.''

Love spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since his injury, which he described as ``pretty much a freak accident'' during a pre-practice workout with his personal trainer at his home on Oct. 17. He said he felt the swelling immediately, tried to perform another weight-bearing exercise and then rushed to see the team's athletic trainer before being sent to the hospital for X-rays that revealed two broken bones.

``I do different series of push-ups all the time. My hand just gave on me,'' Love said, ``and it just broke.''

The suggestion was made to Love that if he was seriously trying to cover up some bad or embarrassing behavior he would've created a more believable tale.

``I would have done some crazy story, the way my mind works. But I can't even think of anything better right now,'' Love said, wearing a white cast on his arm with a freshly shaved head that's part of a breast cancer fundraiser with NFL star Larry Fitzgerald.

The reason he waited a day after he was hurt to release a statement through the Timberwolves, Love said, was that he was too upset to think clearly. Hearing all the woe from fans about the franchise being cursed (Ricky Rubio is likely out for about two more months while recovering from his injured right knee) only made Love's mind spin more.

``I think the human instinct is to kind of take all the pressure and all the blame onto yourself,'' he said. ``I think that's a large part of what happened. I do feel like I'm a big part of this team, and for me not to be out there the first few or several games, it kills me.''

Love is supposed to be out for another four to six weeks. He said he's bracing for the longer end of the timetable, figuring a quicker return would simply be a bonus. If that's the case, he'll miss about a quarter of the season. Love broke his left hand in a preseason game three years ago and missed about six weeks that time.

The Timberwolves open without the NBA's premier power forward on Friday at home against Sacramento.

``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.

Love went back to his California home after the injury and addressed his teammates upon returning.

``You don't ever have to apologize for an injury. He didn't want this,'' shooting guard Brandon Roy said. ``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.''

Coach Rick Adelman, naturally, said he was more concerned about players such as Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson, who'll take Love's lost playing time.

``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,'' Adelman said. ``That's just the way it is. A lot of teams are facing the same thing. We are no different.''

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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

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