Lineup change? Adelman still thinking about it

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 13, 2012 - 5:17 PM

The big question following Tuesday's loss to Chicago was whether Wolves coach Rick Adelman was ready to tinker with his starting lineup.

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Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio shots a jumper over Chicago's Derrick Rose in the first quarter Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Rick Adelman doesn't know yet. Or at least that's what he said after Thursday's practice.

The big question following Tuesday's loss to Chicago was whether Adelman was ready to tinker with his starting lineup. It was a reasonable question, considering the lineup of Luke Ridnour, Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic was down 24 against the Bulls before Adelman brought players off the bench.

A smaller lineup of Love, Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Tolliver and Anthony Randolph finished the first half on a 20-2 run, then managed to tie the score in the third quarter before the Bulls finally prevailed. It should be noted that Milicic, Ellington and Johnson didn't play after the first quarter.

After the game Adelman said he'd consider changes for Friday's game in New Orleans.

"I haven't really decided," Adelman said. "We'll have to see what our options are when we get to New Orleans and make a decision on how we'll go."

The process was hampered a bit by how few players were able to practice Thursday. Michael Beasley (mid-foot sprain) and J.J. Barea (sprained ankle) both missed practice and will not be with the team for the two-game road trip that finishes in Atlanta on Saturday. Also, Kevin Love was excused from practice to deal with a personal issue, though he did go on the trip.

Ridnour and Rubio play plenty together, but starting both of them would leave the Wolves without a point guard on the bench (with Barrea out).

Still, Adelman said he would consider starting Rubio.

"A lot of it depends on the matchups we're going to face, and then we have to think about the game, the total game," Adelman said. "What's the best for the team, as far as who you bring off the bench, who you don't bring off the bench. But [starting Rubio] is a possibility, for sure."

What is clear, though, is that the Wolves have to find a way to start games better, no matter who is starting.

Adelman said the defense was poor to start the Chicago game and there were a lot of missed open shots.

"We worked on both ends of the court today and hopefully we'll do better [in New Orleans]," he said.

But it could be an attitude, too. Rubio talked of the aggressive way Chicago opened the game.

"We have to punch first," he said. "I mean, in this league, if they punch first -- like Chicago did -- you are in trouble."

Etc.

• The Wolves had 18 fast-break points against Chicago. That was one reason they turned 18 Bulls turnovers into 25 points.

"I thought we did a good job against a very good defensive team as the game went on," Adelman said.

• Center Brad Miller, coming back from knee surgery, did some things in practice during half-court sets. It was the first work Miller has done with the team. Adelman said Miller was testing the knee.

• Adelman said Beasley would be out "for a while yet." He also said that the rash of injuries the Wolves have could be due in part to the compressed schedule.

• Rubio is third among guards (behind Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul) and Love fifth among forwards (behind Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol) in NBA Western Conference All-Star voting. The game is Feb. 26 in Orlando.

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