Wessel: Brandon Roy joins body count, but Wolves keep getting job done
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MINNEAPOLIS -- This should have been a doomsday scenario for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Already without Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea, Brandon Roy left Friday's game with a sore right knee. But somehow the resilient Wolves pulled another rabbit out of their hat to improve to 4-1 and continue on the franchise's best start in over a decade.
These Wolves continue to have adversity thrown at them and they continue to pass each test -- save a rough a road game in Toronto. A year after injuries completely derailed a potential spot in the playoffs, this team hasn't missed a beat. The body count keeps rising and guys keep stepping up.
"We just keep winning," Andrei Kirilenko said. "All that matters in the NBA is a win.
It was all smiles and backslaps in the locker room after Chase Budinger made the cut of a lifetime to score the game-winner with less than a second remaining, beating Indiana 96-94 moments after the Pacers knotted the score.
But it is fair to begin worrying how sustainable this will be.
The team was mum on Roy after the game, only saying he will travel to Chicago for the game on Saturday. Still, it doesn't take a doctor to realize that a sore knee isn't a good sign for a guy who is attempting an NBA comeback with no cartilage left in either knee.
Roy signed a two-year, $10 million dollar deal with a team option to kill the second year if medical issues like this arose. So, this wouldn't be a disaster financially even if the worst case scenario arises, but it is just another shining example of a franchise that desperately needs a break not being able to catch one.
Roy's season hadn't really gotten off the ground even before the setback. The guard was averaging just 5.8 points per game on 26.7% shooting in 25 minutes per game. He doesn't look truly comfortable on the court. The best word to describe it might be stiff. It was tough to tell if that is ring rust from taking a year off or his knees being pain.
Unlike Roy, Barea won't travel to Chicago and will likely miss the game in Dallas on Monday night. The Wolves went with multiple ball-handlers on the court to make up for the loss of their backup point guard, and that will continue in Chicago.
But the shorthanded Wolves must push on. They clearly have gained confidence through a hot five game start and will need that even more if the injuries to Barea and Roy linger.
The question heading into the season was whether or not this team could keep its head above water until Love and Rubio came back. The road until the reinforcements arrive just got a little longer.
The schedule is about to pick up. Road games at Chicago and Dallas are up next, with the dreaded four-game West Coast road trip looming at the end of the month.
But one thing is clear: this team didn't feel sorry for itself when it lost Love, and it certainly isn't going to start now because two more guys went down.
It took last year's Wolves 11 games to get their fourth win. It has taken them five games to reach four wins this year.
Just imagine what they'll be capable of if they ever manage to get a full roster.