PORTLAND, ORE. — Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on Saturday returned home to Portland, where he got his first NBA job as a Trail Blazers assistant nearly 30 years ago and where he still lives.
His return to the city where he coached the Blazers to two NBA Finals in the early 1990s became an occasion for him to reflect on his decision to get back into coaching last fall by accepting the Wolves' job five months after he chose not to return to Houston.
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to coach one more time," he said. "I really enjoyed the last two years in Houston. Yao [Ming] got hurt, Tracy McGrady got hurt and we had a lot of young guys and you just saw those guys grow. I just felt some guys on this team were the same way, and so far we've been able to turn it around. That's what we want to do -- we want to keep going in the right direction.
"To me, it's not about the wins and losses. It's about the competitiveness of the team. The wins really help, you know."
Asked if he made the right decision and is having fun, he said: "Yeah, yeah, it's a good group. As long as they keep coming back every night ... the Laker game [Wednesday, without ill Kevin Love] was the first game all year where we really got it taken to us in the second half and kind of gave in. As long as we don't do that, and as long as we remain competitive, it remains fun."
Barea is back
Guard J.J. Barea returned Saturday after missing Thursday's game at Phoenix, saying the strained calf he injured Wednesday against the Lakers was "a lot better, I feel great." He wore a compression sleeve on that calf when he came off the bench for the first time early in the second quarter.
Adelman said the team will recall rookie Malcolm Lee from the D League if Barea's injury lingers. Otherwise, expect Lee to remain in Sioux Falls for most of the rest of the season so he can play games rather than sit if the Wolves remain healthy.
A second chance?
Here's a name to watch as the March 15 trade deadline nears: Portland shooting guard Jamal Crawford.
Crawford said before Saturday's game that he came "really close" to signing with the Wolves in December and sounded wistful that he didn't. The Blazers might trade Crawford if they believe they need to make a major roster overhaul this summer.
"I really thought they were a team on the rise," Crawford said of the Wolves. "I can't take credit and say I saw them being right there in the thick of things [in the playoff race], but I definitely saw them being a lot better than last year. Their young guys have gotten better. I'm a big fan of Coach Adelman. He's really laid back. He's an old-school coach. He's got some great, great, great stuff offensively."
Giving UCLA some Love
Love tweeted his support for UCLA coach Ben Howland after a Sports Illustrated story last week portrayed Bruins basketball as an undisciplined program in which bullying and drug and alcohol use persisted in the years after Love left the program in 2008.
After Saturday's shootaround, he said a "few bad eggs" have sullied a storied program built long ago on legendary coach John Wooden's Pyramid of Success.
"I don't put the majority of the blame on Coach," Love said. "Players didn't do right by the program, didn't do right by Coach Howland, didn't do right by UCLA. At the end of the day, Coach Wooden is watching over that program. You've got to do right by them."
• Adelman on why the Wolves pursued Crawford: "He's a scorer. He's a volume scorer. The thing I was always impressed with was, when the game is on the line, he can make shots. He can make something happen. He's a great free-throw shooter. He's got great range. He's just a very good offensive player, someone you can go to."
• Monticello's Joel Przybilla signed last week with a Portland team for which he had played seven seasons rather than accept offers to contend for a title with Miami and Chicago. He called it a "tough decision" that "feels good in my heart."
• A banner commemorating Wolves assistant coach Terry Porter's jersey No. 30 retired by the Blazers in 2008 hangs in the Rose Garden rafters.