Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman returned to the bench Wednesday after 11 games away, uncertain just how he'd adjust to a team that has new players since he last worked more than three weeks ago.
"My rotation?" he said, perhaps only half joking, prior to the 96-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. "I haven't even thought about my rotation at this point."
Adelman returned Wednesday, when the Wolves also had Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved back healthy for the first time since they were injured two weeks ago against the very same Clippers team at Target Center.
Adelman, of course, inserted Pekovic back into the starting lineup at center and kept point guards Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio together in a small backcourt that emphasizes experience and ballhandling. He brought Shved in off the bench along with companion guard J.J. Barea.
The Wolves had signed European swingman Mickael Gelabale and D League center Chris Johnson to not one, but two 10-day contracts since Adelman last coached a game on Jan. 5 against Portland. Adelman used Gelabale as one of his first substitutions to spell small forward Andrei Kirilenko late in the first quarter.
Adelman also had hoped to experiment with playing big men Pekovic and Johnson -- a bruising Earth-bound physical presence and a thin jumping jack -- together in a twin towers sort of thing, but didn't find the opportunity. Johnson didn't play.
"I haven't seen two of the guys, except on TV," Adelman said. "Usually when you've been doing this a long time, you do it by feel and how the game is going. I don't think it'll be too hard."
Shved is chosen
Shved was named by the NBA to play in next month's All-Star Weekend Rising Stars Challenge, but second-year players Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams were not.
The league chose nine rookies and nine second-year players who will be divided among two teams as chosen by guest GMs Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.
"[Shved] certainly deserves that," Adelman said. "He has been great for us all year long. We put a lot of pressure on him from the very beginning, put the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He has been good."
Both Rubio and Williams played in the game as rookies last season when it was in Orlando. This time they were bypassed by the likes of Kenneth Faried, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Chandler Parsons and Nikola Vucevic, all second-year players.
Out of the loop
Memphis made a trade Wednesday that will impact the Western Conference playoff race when it traded star Rudy Gay to Toronto in a three-team trade with Detroit intended to shed Gay's huge salary. The Grizzlies got Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye while the Pistons received point guard Jose Calderon.
"So we weren't involved?" Adelman said. "I don't really care what they do, to tell you the truth."
• Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul missed his eighth game in the past 10 because of a bruised kneecap, an injury that pushed backup Eric Bledsoe into starting and leadership roles on a team that includes the 40-year-old Grant Hill.
"They pretty much got kids my age," said Bledsoe, a 23-year-old in his third NBA season, of his veteran teammates. "They show me the ropes and let me lead them."
• The NBA named the Wolves' Kevin Love its Kia Community Assist Award winner for December. The All-Star forward was honored in part for his annual winter-coat drive that collected more than 2,500 coats this season.
• The Wolves' regional scouts are in the Twin Cities this week for their customary meetings.