LOS ANGELES – The Timberwolves went back to work Monday night again in Los Angeles, this time against the Clippers.
They did so just 22 hours after they ended a 22-game losing streak against the Lakers at the very same Staples Center, just 22 hours after Wolves coach Rick Adelman again demanded much of his starters through the game’s first three quarters.
With his bench diminished by injuries to Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf and underperforming, Adelman played his starters almost all of the first three quarters Sunday before he was able to get them some rest in the fourth quarter of a 20-something point game.
A week ago, he pushed his starters to a victory at New York and the next night the Wolves fought to find their legs in Cleveland. On Monday, they had to come back and play the Clippers, but at least it was in the same arena, in the same city without a travel night in between.
“Everybody wants to look at that,” Adelman said when asked about starters’ playing time. “I wanted to win the game. I thought it was important. We’re trying to establish something. I don’t want to play people 45 minutes, but we’ve got to get ourselves to where we know what we’re doing and our bench hasn’t played real well. A lead can evaporate quickly.”
On Sunday, Adelman played mostly a seven-man rotation on Sunday, mixing in reserves Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea while always keeping at least two starters on the floor. On Monday, Adelman went to his bench more liberally, sending five guys, including Derrick Williams and rookie Gorgui Dieng, into the game in the first quarter after Kevin Love picked up two quick fouls.
The Wolves didn’t have to travel Sunday night. They returned to their hotel and came back to Staples Center the next night against a different opponent. Veteran Corey Brewer said playing time at this point in the season shouldn’t matter.
“We can’t think like that,” Brewer said. “We’re young. We’re young guys with young legs. We’ve got to get it done.”
Adelman said he and Flip Saunders talk daily about adding a scorer to the team’s bench until Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf return from injuries, but…
“We talk about our needs all the time, but it’s not that simple,” Adelman said. “You can’t just go out and find somebody. You’re hoping the guys you have step up and you’re going to get some type of rotation you’re comfortable with. Right now, it’s a work in progress.”
Point guard Ricky Rubio’s 12-point, 14-assist, 10-rebound triple-double Sunday against the Lakers was the second of his career and it also was the ninth time he had at least 10 points, 10 assists and five steals in a game.
Only four other Wolves players have done that: Terrell Brandon (7 times), Michael Williams (3), Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury. Rubio led the NBA in steals (3.57 a game) and ranked fourth in assists (8.7 per) entering Monday’s game.
“Well, I almost got quadruple-double with the turnover,” said Rubio, who had five turnovers as well as five steals.
• Wolves rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng are no longer toting the childish backpacks teammates made them carry as part of their rookie initiation, not after the NBA sent every team an anti-bullying memo in the wake of the Richie Incognito/Miami Dolphins controversy. “It needed to be said,” Adelman said about the memo. “I’m glad the league did it.”
• Clippers veteran reserve forward Matt Barnes returned Monday after missing three games because of a bruised thigh.
• The Wolves seldom have played consecutive games at Staples Center, but they did so Sunday and Monday, although the setups for each home team are completely different. “It’s like a whole new arena,” Hummel said, referring to the Lakers’ theatrical lighting that illuminates the court and leaves the seating areas in darkness.