Love working after practice to regain shooting rhythm

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2012 - 2:53 AM

With his three-pointers not falling, he spent extra time trying to correct that Friday.

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Kevin Love

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Long after the rest of the players had left the practice court Friday, Kevin Love was there, taking extra shots. After that he worked out in the weight room of the Timberwolves' practice facility, going hard with teammate Nikola Pekovic.

"He's doing the extra work," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "And that's what he has to do."

Love, who declined an interview request Friday, is working to find consistency in his game, to find a rhythm that, at least in part because of a succession of injuries and illness, has eluded him.

Love is shooting 35.5 percent from the field, 22.5 percent on three-pointers and averaging 18.8 points per game.

His shooting percentage is a career low, his three-point percentage the lowest since his rookie year and his scoring average his lowest since averaging 14.0 in 2009-10, his second season.

Love missed the first nine games after breaking two bones in his right hand doing knuckle pushups at his home. He returned with a 34-point performance against Denver on Nov. 21. But he has since missed one game because of illness and another because of an injured eye.

Love had a 28-point, 9-for-20 performance (he was 4-for-9 on three-pointers) in a victory over Oklahoma City on Dec. 20, but he got poked in the eye during that game. When he returned after missing a game, Love struggled through a 3-for-14, seven-point performance against Houston on Wednesday.

"He's not shooting the ball like he was last year, or any year he's played," Adelman said. "It's just something he's going to have to work through and play through. He's really important in the way we play; when he's making shots it opens it up for everybody, especially [Pekovic] inside.

''Sometimes, in this league, things are going good, and that's the easy part. When things aren't going good, that's when you have to show who you are. He'll get through it."

Adelman said he felt it was tough for Love having been in and out of the lineup, though he said he didn't know if Love's hand still is bothering his shot.

But there is no question the Wolves -- who continue to struggle as a team from three-point range -- need Love to play well.

"He doesn't have the rhythm he had last year," Adelman said. "It's something where you have to keep taking the shots. That's what he has to do. He'll get it going."

Roy misses practice

Brandon Roy, working to come back from right knee surgery, missed practice for what the team called personal reasons. When asked if the absence might be related to his knee injury, Adelman said: "I have no idea. Just personal reasons."

Roy is attempting a comeback after knee injuries prompted his retirement and absence from the game last season. He appeared in the team's first five regular-season games before ultimately deciding to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee Nov. 19.

After taking part in the team's workout Thursday Roy had said that, if he had another good practice Friday, he hoped to return to action Saturday against Phoenix. But after missing Friday's workout?

"I would doubt it," Adelman said of Roy playing Saturday.

Etc.

• Guard Ricky Rubio has been cleared to play up to 24 minutes a game, Adelman said. But will he? "The biggest thing is how is he playing and how are the other guys playing," Adelman said.

• Chase Budinger said his rehab is going well after having surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He is able to do some water exercises, some light squatting and some bike work. He is at least two weeks away from doing any running. He said he still hopes to return in time to play "20-plus" games, which means he's hoping for a mid-March return.

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