Love broke his right hand in a preseason workout last month and had been expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks - but returned to action and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks, but was back on court quicker than expected and thrived with 34 points and 14 rebounds.
Despite the defeat, the Minnesota fans roared in amazement when Love was announced in the starting line-up.
The team had not revealed he would be returning to action, keeping his progress concealed.
"I didn't want to make a big deal about it," Love told reporters afterwards.
"I told my team mates and they didn't really believe me and once they saw a jersey in my locker, they believed it was true.
"More than anything I'm just upset we didn't win."
Love led the Timberwolves last season with averages of 26 points and 13.3 rebounds and has played in the last two All-Star games.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook stepped up in overtime to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-111 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
After the Clippers went on a fourth-quarter run to force overtime, Durant and Westbrook combined to score all 15 Thunder points in the extra session to keep last season's Western Conference champions on top.
Durant finished with a game-high 35 points and Westbrook tallied 23 and nine assists for the Thunder (9-3).
"It was like a playoff game in November," said Scott Brooks, the Thunder coach.
"Everybody laid it all on the line tonight. We did a really good job defensively and that's not an easy thing to do against them."
Blake Griffin paced the visiting Clippers with 23 points and Jamal Crawford had 20 off the bench.
Chris Paul made just two of 14 shots but the feisty point guard helped Los Angeles outscore Oklahoma City 33-26 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
"Regardless of what anyone says it's gonna be tough for us to win a game when I play that bad," Paul said.
"It's tough because you work so hard but there's just gonna be nights like that."
The Sacramento Kings claimed their first win in six by beating the Los Angeles Lakers 113-97 and the Golden State Warriors overcame the Brooklyn Nets 102-93.
The San Antonio Spurs joined the Thunder on nine wins as they beat the Boston Celtics 112-100 thanks to 26 points from Tony Parker, a season's best.
Tim Duncan also shone for the Spurs with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
The Miami Heat reached the same 9-3 mark as they saw off the Milwaukee Bucks 113-106 in overtime.
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade had 28 points apiece, with James also pulling down 10 rebounds, while Bosh added 18 rebounds to his 24 points.
OJ Mayo's 27 points helped the Dallas Mavericks overcome the New York Knicks 114-111.
The Knicks, who had lost only once going into the game, rallied from 102-90 down to trail by just one point at 112-111, but Carmelo Anthony missed a go-ahead shot.
Paul George stepped it up after half-time to score a career-high 37 points in the Indiana Pacers' 115-107 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
George had only four points to his name by half-time but came to life thereafter.
The Washington Wizards' worst start to a season continued in agonising fashion as they lost 101-100 to the Atlanta Hawks in overtime.
Kyle Korver's three-pointer from downtown with less than two seconds on the clock left the Wizards nursing an 0-10 record.
Jeremy Pargo poured in 28 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 92-83 while the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 90-74.
The Charlotte Bobcats edged out the Toronto Raptors 98-97, the Houston Rockets saw off the Chicago Bulls 93-89 and the Phoenix Suns were 114-87 winners over the hapless Portland Trail Blazers.