Before I get into a couple of things from Monday's victory over Sacramento at Target Center...
Here's the game story that focuses on Luke Ridnour's big night, a 25-point, 9-assist game in which he did a little bit of everything, including blocking a shot and getting an assist that looked like a aimless shot.
You'll find the gamer here.
Now some other bits of this and that:
* I'm still getting tweets and emails here and there clinging to the same notion I once had that Kevin Love isn't a max-contract kind of a guy. I'm finally starting to convince myself to stop looking at the things he doesn't do -- not a go-to guy, can't defend, never a No. 1 guy on a title winner -- and starting to look at what he does.
As Flip Saunders said in Washington when the Wolves were there about nine days ago, nobody ever imagined he'd be this kind of double-double guy. Maybe 15 and 10 on a good night, but...33 and 11 again tonight.
He's now scored 30 or more in three consecutive games -- 33 tonight, 30 at Atlanta, 34 at New Orleans -- for the first time in his career AND he's not even shooting the ball very well, just 2 for 7 from three-point range tonight.
Of those 33, 22 came in a second half -- 11 in the third, 11 in the fourth -- when the Wolves outscored Sacramento by 17 points.
He's 23, for crying out loud, too.
* Love almost didn't get that far Monday.
The same guy who both talked and tweeted after Saturday's loss in Atlanta about the Wolves not getting any respect from the refs drew a second-quarter technical foul and then almost got another T and the automatic ejection when he hopped up and down upset with a call after halftime.
"When I was jumping up and down, I was a little worried I was going to get it," Love said. "It's an emotional game. I've loved this game my whole life. There are times I'm going to be jumping up and down, I'm going to talk back to the refs. Everybody wants respect in this league. Same thing with other players. When they start talking a little bit of trash, we're going to go back at them and let that fuel us as well.
"It makes the game fun. It makes the game interesting. It's the reason you play."
* Remember not long ago when Rick Adelman said he needed to find ways to get Derrick Williams on the floor, then played him 26, 30, 28 and 22 minutes in the next four games?
Well, now in the last two he has played 7-plus minutes at Atlanta and 9 tonight and only 50 seconds after halftime tonight.
So...what's going on?
1. He can't -- or Adelman won't -- play him at small forward. Remember when he was drafted and so many assumed he'd have Mike Beasley's job by opening night.
2. With him pretty much limited to power forward for now, his minutes are few when Adelman decides, as he did Saturday and as he did again tonight, that he needs either Darko or Pekovic out there to match a big body.
Tonight, he called on big Pek for 16-plus and Darko for 15-plus to counter mighty DeMarcus Cousins and afterward, Adelman praised both players for helping hold Cousins to just 10 and 3 after he came into the game with double-doubles in 5 of his last 6 since the Kings fired Paul Westphal and replaced him with Keith Smart.
When both those guys are playing, Love gets most all his minutes at power forward, which means Williams is sitting on the outside looking in the last two games.
Not much of a way to develop the No. 2 overall pick, right? Although I'm guessing this is just a blip, temporary.
* Wes Johnson continues to shoot dreadfully (3 for 11), but he actually got to the basket a couple times tonight and he showed some bounce on defense a couple of times.
So what happens when the Wolves get Barea, Beasley, Martell, Brad Miller and Malcolm Lee back.
At this rate, you've got to believe minutes for Johnson, Darko and maybe even Wayne Ellington go down, even though Ellington took advantage of Barea's absence for the second straight game and provided valuable minutes backing up when either Ridnour or Ricky Rubio needed a rest tonight.
Ellington played 26 minutes, shot well again (6 of 10, including 3 for 5 on threes) and afterward Adelman seemed most impressed with his defensive effort.
For nearly the final seven minutes, Adelman played all three guards together in a lineup that also included Love and Pekovic. Putting Ellington, Rubio and Ridnour together almost perfectly coincided with a 12-3 Wolves' run that turned a 75-73 Wolves' lead 7:10 left into an 87-76 lead just three minutes later.
"I feel a little more confident, like I'm finally getting into a rhythm," said Ellington, who appears to be finding his way more and more into Adelman's rotation and heart.
But what happens when Barea comes back, as soon as Wednesday?
* RIdnour now has scored in double figures in nine of 13 games. He entered the game averaging career highs in scoring (11.9) and field-goal percentage (50 percent) -- yes, it is awfully early in the season to be mentioning numbers like that -- and tonight scored that 25 and shot 10 for 14 from the field.
* I like the time Pekovic is getting. Give the guy some steady time and let's see what he can develop into.
You know what Darko can -- or can't -- do.
He just can't seem to hold onto the ball, for one thing. For another, he again tonight insisted on shooting one one of those finesse 2-foot flip shots that he "just likes" when he could have dunked the ball, and missed yet another bunny. Is Adelman's hair more gray now as when he opened camp a month ago?
Pekovic gives you toughness, even if he's limited.
I didn't get a good look at how it happened, but he knocked Cousins silly late in the game tonight, so much so that the officiating crew probably should have given him a standing 8-count and sent him to his corner.
* DId you see NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver sitting courtside about three rows up tonight with Wolves VP Ted Johnson?
I'm told he was here just on usual business, making the rounds, getting out to arenas now that his extended summer spent bargaining the new labor agreement is over.
And maybe, maybe he was out seeing and being seen to lay the foundation for the day he takes over from David Stern as commissioner.
OK, that's it for now from Target Center.
Kent's covering practice the next few days and he's got Wednesday's game against the Pistons as well while I work on a story about injuries in the league so far in this condensed season for Wednesday paper and then work ahead for the weekend with a good-sized piece for Friday on the Clippers, no longer just the other team in LA and Sunday centerpiece setting the table for Kevin McHale's return to Target Center on Monday night.