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- The Timberwolves will have 12 players available tonight for the first time in more than a month, and that might not even be the most important addition for the slumping team. Coach Rick Adelman will be on the sidelines for the first time since Jan. 5, after missing 11 games while his wife Mary Kay was hospitalized as doctors searched for the cause of recent seizures. She has returned home, Adelman said, and he believes he won’t need to miss another game or practice. The Wolves went 2-9 while Terry Porter filled in for Adelman, who conferred with his top assistant every day. Point guard Ricky Rubio and forward Derrick Williams moved into the starting lineup with Porter in charge, and both are expected to stay there, at least for awhile.
- Center Nikola Pekovic and guard Alexey Shved will play tonight for the first time since the Wolves last faced the Clippers, Jan. 17 in Los Angeles. Pekovic has missed the last five games with a bruised right thigh, while Shved sat out those five games with a sprained left ankle. Pekovic will reclaim his spot as Minnesota’s starting center, Adelman said, while Shved, who started the previous 16 games until his injury, will come off the bench for now, with Rubio keeping his starting spot alongside guard Luke Ridnour. Williams and Andrei Kirikenko are the starting forwards. With Pekovic and Shved back, the Wolves will dress 12 players for the first time since Dec. 26.
- Forward Mickael Gelabale and center Chris Johnson have signed their second 10-day contracts with the Wolves, who have an injury exemption that allows them to carry 16 players temporarily. (Brandon Roy, Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and Malcolm Lee have been out for several weeks with various injuries.) Gelebale has averaged 21.8 minutes (and 7.8 points) since signing with Minnesota, while Johnson have averaged 17.2 minutes and 9.2 points.
- Point guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups will not be in uniform for the Clippers, but both are with the team, and coach Vinny Del Negro said it’s possible both could return to action during this eight-game road trip. Paul hasn’t practiced since suffering a deep bone bruise in his right kneecap; tonight will be his fifth straight absence, and eighth in 10 games. Billups has played in only three games this season due to tendonitis in his left foot, but returned to practice on Tuesday. He hasn’t played since Dec. 3.
- In Paul’s absence, forward Blake Griffin has carried the Clippers’ offense, averaging 23.2 points and 6.8 assists in five games last week. He’s been Los Angeles’ best defender during that time, too, averaging 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals. Griffin will start alongside Caron Butler, with DeAndre Jordan at center. Eric Bledsoe fills in for Paul at guard, along with Willie Green in the backcourt.
- This is the first of eight straight road games for the Clippers, who are 13-8 away from Staples Center, but only two of their opponents on the trip have a winning record. The Timberwolves, on the other hand, open a six-game homestand tonight, a stretch that will include visits from three first-place teams: the Clippers, Spurs and Knicks. Minnesota is 11-7 in Target Center, but has lost three straight games to the Clippers.
- Shved has been selected to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, to be played Feb. 15 as part of All-Star Weekend in Houston. Shved is the fourth Timberwolves rookie to appear in the game in the past five years, joining Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson and Williams — none of whom was selected to the game as a sophomore.
– Phil Miller