Love, Rubio hit practice court for Timberwolves

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2012 - 12:07 PM

Nikola Pekovic also returned, but bad Brandon Roy news emerged.

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Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio (shown in a Feb. 2012 game against Houston) took the practice floor together for the first time Sunday. They participated only in 5-on-0 offensive walk-throughs during practice's teaching parts, and their presence doesn't necessarily mean either injured player's timetable to return -- Love somewhere around Dec. 1 with that broken hand, Rubio sometime later that month following March knee surgery -- has changed.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune file

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For a team that hasn't had any lately, the Timberwolves got some good news about their injured on Sunday when starters Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio all took the floor together for the first time this season.

Of course, in keeping with their lengthy history with injuries already this young season, there also was some bad.

On the same day Love and Rubio participated in a 5-on-0 offensive walk-through for the first time, Portland's Oregonian newspaper reported late Sunday night that Wolves guard Brandon Roy's comeback from retirement will be delayed by arthroscopic right knee surgery this week.

Pekovic returned to practice fully on Sunday in preparation for Wednesday's game against Denver. Love and Rubio joined him during the practice's teaching parts.

Their presence doesn't necessarily mean either injured player's timetable -- Love somewhere around Dec. 1 with that broken hand, Rubio sometime later that month following March knee surgery -- has changed

But Wolves coach Rick Adelman was encouraged to see both working with their teammates nonetheless.

"Just having them for 5-on-0 gives them a sense that when we get them back, we'll be pretty good," Adelman said. "We can't wait for that; we have to go out and play. But it just gives them a sense. Ricky's so smart. He knew every play we had and he knew where every player should be. That's just who he is.

"The more we get him on the court, even if it's 5-on-0 and do shooting, it's good for the team."

Rubio has been running and jumping for some time. He's also moving laterally now and likely will return to his Vail, Colo., surgeon for a final checkup before he's cleared for full practices.

"We have to be careful about the expectations," Adelman said. "He had a serious injury. You want him on the court. But you have to judge how quickly. He's going to have his ups and downs. He's just the type of young man, he's going to get through it. He just has to have some patience himself. Once he gets on the floor in practice where he can actually have some contact, we'll probably have a pretty good judge about where he's at."

Right now, Adelman coaches a team with only three healthy guards -- starting point guard Luke Ridnour and shooting guards Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved -- until point guard J.J. Barea returns after a two-week absence and Rubio is cleared to play, probably sometime in mid-December. The Wolves also signed swingman Josh Howard on Thursday.

Until then, Rubio sits on the Wolves' bench nightly and fills an unofficial role as an extra assistant coach of sorts.

"He really has been," Adelman said. "He really has been talking to Lexey a lot, and I think that really helps. He's a very intelligent player. He sees everything. He's willing to talk to guys to help them. I think with Lexey especially, it helps."

Love last week said he plans to have his broken hand X-rayed on Tuesday. The results will be sent to his New York City specialist, and he then hopes to get approval to begin strengthening the hand and begin shooting and ballhandling with it.

Barea and Roy did not practice Sunday, and Adelman said after practice, "I have no idea," when asked whether either will play against the Nuggets.

Roy hasn't played since leaving a Nov. 9 game against Indiana after aggravating a knee he had originally banged in the preseason finale against Milwaukee. The Oregonian reported Sunday that he will undergo the seventh knee operation of his career, dating back to his high school days.

Pekovic, though, said Sunday that he intends to play Wednesday. He had hoped to play in Friday's 106-98 home loss to Golden State in which his team got clobbered on the backboards and in points in the paint without him.

"They just want to make sure I don't hurt it [more]," Pekovic said Sunday of the decision to sit out Friday. "Today I practice, tomorrow I practice. It's good, it's good. Still I got a little pain, but it's nothing special."

Pekovic's return will give the Wolves the inside presence they so obviously lacked against the Warriors.

"It's a big factor. They don't handle us on the boards like they did," Adelman said. "He's a handful around the basket that they have to guard."

  • TIMBERWOLVES Up next: 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. Denver • Target Center • TV: FSN

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