Timberwolves two-time All-Star Kevin Love made his season debut in a stealthy attack launched under the cover of darkness as night fell over Target Center on Wednesday.

Now, as funny as it might seem, a Wolves team that played defense so passionately and moved the ball so freely in building that 5-2 season start and now is .500 must learn again how to play with him.

The Wolves surfed the emotion of Love's unexpected return to a 17-point lead just before halftime against Denver before it all fell apart in a 101-94 loss.

"Little different," said Wolves reserve point guard J.J. Barea, who along with starting center Nikola Pekovic also returned from injury Wednesday. "Trust me, we're happy he's back."

Greeted by a standing ovation when he was introduced as a surprise starter, Love scored 16 points in an opening 21-10 run and 22 points in the first half alone. He finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds and still talked mostly about the things he didn't do.

Love surprised even some of his teammates when he showed up ready to play Wednesday even though he hadn't practiced fully. He had his right shooting hand x-rayed again Tuesday and a New York City hand specialist determined the hand had healed enough for Love to play again whenever he felt he was ready.

That came one night later.

"I've done all I could do to strengthen the hand and prepare for this," Love said after Wednesday's game, "and I'm still not where I want to be. It's going to be a process and I'm not where I want to be right now."