ATLANTA – Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman slept on the matter overnight, reconsidered the evidence of Friday’s home loss to Memphis and remained convinced Saturday that he made the right decision going with reserve point guard J.J. Barea over starter Ricky Rubio in the fourth quarter the night before.
Adelman has made the same decision several times already this season and each time said simply he went with the guy he thought gave his team the best chance to win that night.
But what about the big picture and giving Rubio — presumably the franchise’s point guard for the future — the chance to learn and grow and get better by consistently playing him when the game is on the line?
“That’s something you have to look at,” Adelman said before Saturday’s game at Atlanta. “This has been a very different year for us because so many people have been so up and down. The big picture sometimes gets lost in just trying to win a game and keep something going, and we were bad in the first half last night. We got it going there in the third quarter and I was just trying to go with the flow. Ricky did a nice job in the third quarter, and J.J. did a pretty good job in the fourth quarter.”
Adelman stuck with Barea because he made consecutive three-point shots midway through the fourth quarter and then made a nice pass to Kevin Love for a layup. He chose Barea’s offensive possibilities over Rubio’s playmaking — he had six assists and no points in a third-quarter comeback — and defense that might have exploited Memphis’ Courtney Lee, who played out of position at point guard after injured Mike Conley left the game.
“You make it at the time,” Adelman said about such decisions. “You can also throw Dante [Cunningham] in there with Ronny [Turiaf] because Dante had just scored a couple of baskets. It’s just one of those things. You make a decision. I can’t answer for you what Ricky would have done … Ricky’s got to be someone you can trust going down the stretch, but it’s not going to happen all the time. There are 82 games, four or five I don’t that should really matter much.”
Love plays through pain
Love started Saturday’s game at Atlanta and accumulated 43 points and 19 rebounds despite waking up Saturday morning with his ankle stiff after he turned it when he stepped on Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes’ foot in Friday’s second quarter. Love first turned the ankle eight days earlier during a game at Golden State.
“Just have to be able to play through the pain, go out and still produce for us,” Love said. “I don’t think I rolled my ankle in the previous five years, and now I’ve rolled it twice in a week … I’m good to go, it’s just real stiff.”
Boot not made for walking
Starting center Nikola Pekovic missed his third consecutive game Saturday because of bursitis in his ankle. He accompanied his teammates to Atlanta and strode into Philips Arena wearing a protective boot on his foot.
“Oh, it’s terrible,” Pekovic said. “I just hate boot.”
He is hopeful he will only have to wear the boot for a couple more days.
“It’s not bad,” said Pekovic, who started the season’s first 44 games. “Of course, with my style of playing, of course sometimes it’s normal you get hurt. It’s nothing bad. In a few days, it will be fine.”
• Love and Kevin Martin attempted 37 field goals between the two of them Friday against physical Memphis and yet shot only one free throw, a technical-foul shot that Love took. When asked about those numbers a day later, Adelman said Saturday: “I don’t have the money to answer that the way I’d like. All I can say is we average 26 free throws a game. We got seven last night and one was a technical. That’s hard for me to imagine.”
• It’s a bad sign when Wolves radio announcer Alan Horton is carrying a reporter’s notepad with him before Saturday’s game with these words written on it: “Can’t. Talk. Throat.” He preserved and called the game anyway.
• Adelman when asked before the game what if Love couldn’t play. “I don’t know,” he said. “Fly home?” Answer: He would have started Cunningham.