Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley came off the bench for a third consecutive game Wednesday against Indiana, two nights after he delivered a monstrously efficient 34-point night at Houston.
He's in that role because he missed 11 games before that because of a sprained right foot. But bigger picture, do Beasley's scoring proclivities and defensive liabilities make him a perfect candidate for permanent sixth-man duties?
Coach Rick Adelman doesn't want to answer that question so soon after Beasley's return, although he said earlier this season that he has discussed that idea with his coaches since he accepted the job in September.
Beasley said he has never considered or been interested in such a job, but ...
"I'm interested in playing basketball," he said. "If I got to be a sixth man, then I will. If I'm a starter, then I am. Whatever position, whatever role, I will play it to the best of my ability. It's coach's decision. I'm coming off the bench because he told me to. Either way, I'm going to play the same game."
Beasley, who scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting in the 109-99 loss to the Pacers, credited Monday's breakout game with turning his mind off, not that sixth-man role.
Barea is back
Guard J.J. Barea returned Wednesday, scoring seven points in nearly 14 minutes of play. Barea had missed 10 of the previous 11 games because of hamstring or ankle injuries. He came back three other times, lasting only one game each time.
"I think this time is the time," said Barea, who last played 14 minutes on Jan. 18 against Detroit and was limited to short six-minute stretches. "If we would have done this the first time around ... I think this is two weeks or something. I think we were patient this time and I think it's going to work."
Center Darko Milicic also returned Wednesday after missing three games because he felt dizzy and ill, and moved right back into the starting lineup against 7-3 Pacers center Roy Hibbert even though the symptoms persisted.
"I think they're still kind of curious what's going on," Milicic said about team doctors. "We still can't figure it out. I'll play. I'll go as long as I can. I can't stay out no more, go eat some bananas and drink some water."
For the first time, the Wolves wore throwback American Basketball Association jerseys commemorating the 1967-68 Minnesota Muskies team that played at Met Center and the 45th anniversary of a league that changed the game with individual stars such as Julius Erving, David Thompson, George Gervin, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore and Connie Hawkins, the three-point shot and a red, white and blue basketball.
"Basketball players were rock stars back then," Beasley said. "That's kinda dope. They played hard. If you watched any old-school games, a flagrant [foul] 2 today was just a regular foul back then. No blood, no foul. You can't play like that today or you'll be sitting for two games."
• Ricky Rubio was named Western Conference rookie of the month for January; Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving won the honor in the East. And so begins the battle for NBA Rookie of the Year.
• The Wolves will send rookie guard Malcolm Lee to their Sioux Falls affiliate in the Development League for about a week to play himself back in shape from Dec. 30 knee surgery. The Skyforce plays games Thursday and Friday, and then not again until Tuesday.
• Terry Kunze, a point guard for that Muskies team and an original Wolves season-ticket holder, was moved to front-row seats for Wednesday's game.
• Given the spirit of the ABA and that era, shouldn't Beasley have grown his hair back into that full Afro for Wednesday's game? "I tried," he said. "It just didn't grow fast enough."