FARGO, N.D. - New Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy returned to real NBA play Wednesday night after a year away with a preseason- opening performance that predictably was both out of step and perfectly in tune.
He didn't expect anything else in the Wolves' 84-70 victory over Indiana at the Fargodome, really.
Roy hadn't played an NBA game since the 2011 playoffs, when he unknowingly bade farewell in his second-to-last game before a year's retirement with that unforgettable 24-point performance against Dallas during a first-round series.
Wednesday's stage was obviously less dramatic but nonetheless significant to Roy, who has prepared for his comeback on degenerative knees with a summer's worth of work and eight days of practice with his teammates.
"Another bridge to cross," he said of his return to competitive play against a Pacers team that played without starters Danny Granger, David West and George Hill.
The Wolves played on without injured point guards Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio and Malcolm Lee themselves, so Roy started in the backcourt alongside J.J. Barea and delivered a 13-point, four-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, one-turnover evening in which he sought to get his step back.
Roy was slow to find it Wednesday night, then discovered something of his former All-Star self just after halftime by scoring eight third-quarter points, including his team's first six coming out of intermission.
In all, he played nearly 24 minutes -- exactly half the game coach Rick Adelman predicted his starters might play -- while sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
"I think it takes time sometimes," Roy said afterward. "I felt good. I was excited. This was my first game since Game 6 of the Dallas series over a year ago, and it was good just to get out there again."
When he was on the floor, he scored both driving to the basket with either hand and by shooting, and scoring, outside off teammates' screens.
"I thought he did good," Adelman said. "He went and got to the basket a couple of times. He said he felt good. He's just going to get better. It's his first game back in a year. I like the way he worked himself in. He didn't force anything. He played hard. He's going to be solid."
Roy attempted to draw a charge during Wednesday's first half. He banged knees with an opponent, drew the foul on himself instead and went crashing to the floor in the process.
He got up wincing but played on.
"It's not anything new," Roy said. "I've been taking some bumps in practice. Those are normal. I went knee to knee. I was like, 'Hey, this is just part of the game.' It's just good to take those hits now so I know I can turn around and respond."
The Wolves led by as many as 20 points before the end of the third quarter. They got there with big, fit Nikola Pekovic wearing out max- contract guy Roy Hibbert at center, so much so that Hibbert went to the bench for the night with five fouls midway through the third quarter.
"He's going to wear a lot of guys out, including me in training camp," power forward Kevin Love said. "It's funny. Every time he looks at me, he says, 'I just feel great out there.'"
Pekovic scored 14 points and had five rebounds before he and the other starters sat down for almost all the fourth quarter. Chase Budinger scored 14 points off the bench, and Love added 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting.
Adelman went with former D League guard Will Conroy as his backup point guard to Barea on Wednesday because he said he didn't want to force Russian rookie Alexey Shved to play that spot in his NBA debut.
So Shved played 21 minutes at shooting guard, mostly alongside Conroy. He didn't score a point but repeatedly demonstrated his playmaking ability from that spot. He had four assists and hooked up with Derrick Williams three times in the first half alone.
Williams scored nine points in nine first-half minutes, then played only 4:27 and didn't score a point in the second half. The reason? Probably because he shot three three-pointers rather than attack the basket, as Adelman has urged him to do.
The Fargodome attendance for the Wolves' home game was announced at 9,163, a near sellout.