Wolves' Roy trying to find legs, range

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2012 - 6:58 AM

The former All-Star didn't play last year and it shows as he struggles with the pace of the game and his shot.


The Wolves' Brandon Roy

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy sat at his locker after Sunday's loss in Toronto and vowed to aggressively look for his shot more -- and perhaps his teammates less -- after he didn't attempt a single one and committed five turnovers in the first half of a convincing loss to the Raptors.

Three nights later, he made one of six shots and had nine assists in Wednesday's 90-75 victory over Orlando.

And so it goes for a three-time All-Star trying to find his way back six days into his first season back after a year away.

"Well, you know you say one thing, but the game presents another thing," Roy said.

Roy's comeback after a season's retirement is just four games old. In those four games, he is shooting 26.7 percent from the floor while averaging 5.8 points and 5.5 assists.

That's last, 10th and first among his teammates, and expectedly, understandably, he's just a sliver of the player he once was.

In five seasons with Portland, Roy was on the floor in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.

Through this preseason and the regular season's first four games, he has rarely played in that fourth quarter, an absence that, combined with such modest stats for a player once so productive, has made more than a few folks wonder if Roy indeed is all right.

"I understand where people are coming from," he said. "I'll be fine. Numbers are one thing. Coming back, I didn't want to focus on numbers, saying I have to score this amount of points. I'm not forcing myself into that boat. That's the first thing Coach said. He never said we need 16 points out of you every night. Right now, I'm trying to do everything it takes to win.

"I'm trying to get my legs in game shape. I think the scoring and stuff will come. I'm not panicking over it."

The Wolves, after all, are 3-1 without injured stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. That's their best start since Kevin Garnett pushed the franchise to a 6-0 record in 2002.

"I think he's doing fine," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said after practice Thursday. "I know he's not shooting the ball very well, but the biggest thing is you're looking for him to stay healthy and keep playing every day, which he is doing. He is going to make shots. It's a different situation for him than when he played last time. I think he's trying to figure it out and he has been very patient.

"He had nine assists last night. That's a big impact on the game."

The Wolves are in a season-opening stretch in which they've played three games in the first four days and will play six games in the first nine days.

Roy, who is playing almost 27 minutes a night, said he is not experiencing any pain in his knees, "just a little fatigue."

Asked how Roy is moving, Adelman said: "He's never been a real flyer or quick mover, but he has always been very deceptive and knows what he's doing. I think that's what he's figuring out right now and frankly, that's what we're trying to figure out: How to get him the ball in the right spots. He'll never be like [Orlando guard J.J.] Redick, flying off picks and shooting the ball.

"That's not who he is. He's figuring it out. He's smart enough. He'll figure it out."

Roy retired last winter because he has little or no cartilage in his knees. He underwent a medical procedure in May that took his own blood, spun it into a serum and injected it back into his knees in an effort to lubricate the knees and ease his pain and swelling.

There is no medical way to replace that gone cartilage, but Roy insists he will get "my legs back" in time.

"I think it's a matter of time for the timing," Adelman said when asked if it's a matter of time before those legs come back. "He's used to playing a certain way and now he's a little bit of a different player than he was four years ago. He'll make those adjustments.

"It's hard when you get in a game and you're used to playing a certain way. I still like what he's doing. He's still a productive player even if he's not scoring. He's drawing people to him, and he's finding the open guy and that's just as important as taking the shot."

Roy admits he is adjusting to a pace of play that has quickened considerably since the regular season began a week ago, since opposing coaches have utilized all their defensive strategies they kept under wraps during the preseason and likely have targeted Roy's limited mobility thus far.

"It's faster," he said. "I somewhat expected it. Sitting out a year is tough. It's not like I sat out a year because I wanted to. Getting my feel is taking some time, but it's better being 3-1 than being 0-4 and frustrated."

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