MINNEAPOLIS For the second consecutive day, shooting guard Brandon Roy was absent from the Timberwolves' workout; he missed Friday's practice and then Saturday's shootaround before the team's game against the Suns.
The Timberwolves are citing personal reasons for Roy's absence. However, Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Roy has had a setback in his knee rehab and that his return date is now unknown.
After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Nov. 19, Roy returned to practice a week ago. It appeared that Saturday's game against Phoenix might be a target for the shooting guard's return, but after missing these past two days, that plan has obviously changed. Roy went through an extensive workout Thursday in just his second full practice with the team since returning (the team played Sunday, had Monday and Tuesday off and then played Wednesday), and afterward spoke positively about his rehab.
Roy has undergone seven arthroscopic surgeries on his knees and was forced into retirement in 2011 when Portland amnestied his contract. Roy, however, insists that he never considered himself to be retired, and after undergoing Regenokine, a variation of platelet-rich plasma therapy, he decided to stage a comeback, signing with the Timberwolves this summer.
Roy suffered a setback when he bumped his right knee in an Oct. 26 preseason game against Milwaukee, and when the pain did not subside, he sat out four games before announcing he'd undergo arthroscopy. He hasn't appeared in a game since, and in five contests this season, all starts, he averaged 5.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
Communication: When asked about his team's recent struggles to close out games, point guard Ricky Rubio said he and his teammates need to work on their communication. The problem exists in all aspects of the game, he said, but especially on defense.
"We have some issues, especially when we're back on defense," Rubio said. "We have to talk more as a team and be more together."
"I think one of our issues is that we don't communicate (with) each other. That's why practice helps us to be a better team."
The hand: After a disappointing game against Houston on Wednesday in which he finished with just seven points and shot 21.4 percent, power forward Kevin Love spoke a bit Saturday about where his health stands.
His conditioning is continuing to improve, and he said that his body actually feels good on the court now, after 15 games and myriad freak injuries and illnesses. His grip, though, is still off, and he admitted that this October's hand injury has been far more difficult to deal with than his previous one, which affected his left, non-shooting hand.
"With my right hand, to have it to get that shooting touch back, it's been a little bit of a struggle," Love said. "Because some days I'll wake up feeling great, and some days I'll wake up and the hand will feel like stone."
Love described the strange feeling in his right hand, which no doubt goes a long way toward his struggles. He's felt like he's been shooting with his ring finger and pinkie, he said, rather than his middle and index fingers, which he's used to shooting with.
The pain in his thumb from bruising it Dec. 14 in New Orleans remains, Love said, but he doesn't think it has much to do with his overall shooting woes. On the season, the power forward is shooting 35.5 percent from the field and 22.5 percent from long range; both are career lows and down from his career averages of 45.7 percent and 35.5 percent, respectively, going into this season.
"It's just been a little bit of a struggle to get the feel back for the ball," Love said. "But I can keep strengthening my hand, keep doing exercises with it, and keep getting in the weight room. If I can do that, while I get my legs underneath me, my back right, everything, then I'll be okay."
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