Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has broken convention this season by starting point guards Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour in the same backcourt.

So, how about three instead of two?

Adelman played all three point guards -- adding J.J. Barea to the mix -- at the end of Tuesday's 86-84 victory over Sacramento, just like he did in the Wolves' previous two games. He did so because he wanted yet another ball handler and high-percentage free-throw shooter on the floor with the lead.

"I just think those guys are really effective," Adelman said. "When you have Ricky with the ball in his hands, now he's kicking it to Luke or J.J. When you have guys who can hurt the other team, it's harder for them to guard us. If we have those guys on the court, it's a lot harder on the other team."

Adelman was able to do that Friday at New Jersey and Saturday against Houston because his team had the lead and because it had Kevin Love, the NBA's best rebounder. Tuesday, the Wolves played on without Love, who served the first game of a two-game suspension for stepping on Luis Scola's face and chest in Saturday's game.

"You don't miss a whole lot when you have a guy who can rebound like Love does," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Rebounding is what you give up most from a defensive standpoint [when you play three point guards]. When you got multiple guys who are decision-makers and smart with the basketball and a great, great rebounder, they don't lose a whole lot. It's a challenge to defend them."

Love out, Williams in

Wolves rookie Derrick Williams started at power forward on Tuesday for the first time in Love's place. On Saturday, he tweeted he felt like a caged lion after he played just 14 minutes.

On Tuesday, he got 26 minutes of playing time, hit the go-ahead three-pointer and finished with 14 points.

"He's not the first rookie or the first second [overall] pick who came in and didn't get time right away," Adelman said. "I don't think there's anybody on this team who can't earn time. It's up to their level of play. I mean, people can talk about potential all they want. It's what a guy does on the floor, consistently night in and night out. I think Derrick just has to find his way."

Earning his time

While on that topic of earning time ... center Nikola Pekovic started for the fifth time in seven games. He did so with Darko Milicic nursing yet another injury -- this time a sprained ankle suffered in practice on Monday -- but it probably didn't matter either way.

"He's certainly earned it," Adelman said of Pekovic's playing time and starting job. "We've been trying to go with Darko as a starter. ... [Pekovic] has been very consistent in practice. When he started getting minutes, he has been very consistent in his play. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he'll be an effective player."


The NBA is modifying its All-Star Weekend rookie-sophomore game this year. The participants, who will be announced Wednesday, will be divided by Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley into separate teams regardless of draft year.

Rubio is a lock to be named to the game. Williams, Pekovic and possibly Wes Johnson, who played for the rookie team last season, also could be chosen.


• Love rode an exercise bike and watched teammates go through the morning shootaround. He cannot be in the arena on game nights while serving his suspension, and he didn't accompany the team to Memphis.

• The Wolves' regional scouting staff -- a list that includes international specialist Pete Philo, former Gophers assistant coach Milt Barnes, longtime employee Zarko Durisic, Derek Pierce, Curtis Crawford and J.T. Prada -- is in town for one of its regularly scheduled staff meetings.