Adelman not ready to start Rubio quite yet

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2012 - 11:59 PM

Ricky Rubio put up a shot for two of his 14 points Sunday, this basket against the defense of Dallas’ Jason Kidd.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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OK, it's only four games into this shortened NBA season, but inquiring minds still want to know:

When's Ricky Rubio going to start games rather than just finish them?

"I think that's something that's still down the line," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said before Sunday's game against defending NBA champion Dallas at Target Center.

Rubio's NBA career barely has begun, but the season's opening week already has suggested the Wolves have a different kind of pulse when the ball is in his hands. On Sunday, he delivered a 14-point, seven-assist, four-rebound performance that included five consecutive points scored after the Mavs chopped a 15-point lead to just one.

"We're still evaluating the team, and he's going to have his minutes, he's going to get a chance to play," said Adelman, who played Rubio an average of 28.3 minutes in his first three games. "Those types of things will happen over time. You'll know when it's the right time to do it. Right now, we're just trying to get a win."

Many Wolves fans probably came to that conclusion after opening night, but for now Adelman continues to start Luke Ridnour and brings Rubio and J.J. Barea off the bench.

Asked if he is bringing Rubio along slowly so the rookie doesn't feel too much pressure, Adelman said: "It's one thing I really admire about him: He's got a lot of pressure on him. The expectations are so high for him. It's there all the time. He doesn't seem to buy into that at all. He's just trying to play his game. I don't see him pressing or anything like that.

"Every rookie is going to go through ups and downs in this league, and he's not going to be away from that. He'll have to face that, too, but so far he's done a nice job."

Rubio's fourth-quarter stats in four games: 7-for-10 shooting, 21 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds, a plus-27 in plus-minus rating.

Just in time

Barea tested his healing hamstring before Sunday's game. Then, of course, he declared himself fit to play against the team he helped win the NBA title last season.

"Basically, he's probably the NBA's most effective 5-10 shooting guard," said Dallas' Rick Carlisle, his former coach. "He has proven that over the last three years. He's doing it again here. When you do it in the Finals and you do it on the biggest stage, that's special."

Barea signed a four-year, $19 million guaranteed contract with the Wolves after the Mavericks offered only a one-year deal so they could save salary-cap space for next summer.

"While I'm very happy for him that he got himself a great contract, it's tough seeing him leave and it's going to be tougher playing against him," Carlisle said. "It wasn't just what he provided in terms of his skill and points and all that. He brought real grit and guts to the team."

Barea played less than 17 minutes because it was obvious his strained hamstring isn't healed. He finished with eight points and two assists.

"I've got to be explosive, I've got to be quick to be at my best," he said. "It's not there."

He said he will test it before Monday's game to decide if he can play.

Adelman, when asked before the game if he expected Barea to be "fired up" to play his old mates: "Yeah, he'll probably be, but he's fired up all the time. Even in practice, he gets fired up."

Ouch!

Forward Michael Beasley left the game in the final minute because of a lacerated left index finger -- his shooting hand -- that required five stitches. A pass from Kevin Love jammed his finger and split it open. He said he initially thought he could see the bone.

"According to them," he said, referring to the team's athletic trainers, "I guess it was just flesh and fat."

Asked if he expects to miss Monday's game because of it, Beasley said: "Nah, it's not too bad. It's probably going to keep me from shooting, but it's probably best if I don't shoot right now. Three-for-10 [shooting Sunday] would do that, couple bad games."

Peckovic dresses but sits

Wolves center Nikola Pekovic (groin) was cleared to play after he missed the season's first three games, but did not see action.

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