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Adelman coaching Timberwolves after 3-week break

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Adelman coaching Timberwolves after 3-week break

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Rick Adelman is back on the court and coaching basketball after three weeks away to help his wife through a health scare.

His Minnesota Timberwolves lost nine of 11 games without him to fall behind in the powerful Western Conference playoff race.

Adelman helped restore hope in this downtrodden franchise when he came aboard before last season. So the Timberwolves have missed him. In some ways, though, Adelman may need the Wolves as much as they need him.

Adelman ran practice Monday and said he planned to coach against the Clippers on Wednesday night if all is satisfactory with Mary Kay Adelman, who is being treated for an undisclosed condition. Adelman said he delayed his return until he felt it would be for good. He said his wife is improving and he hopes the worst is over.

``It's hard,'' Adelman said, referring to his absence. ``I've never done this. It's never happened. But there's some things that are more important than basketball or anything else. I think the team understands that. Hopefully things will settle down here now.''

Adelman declined to elaborate on his wife's problems Monday. The issue surfaced this month and required her to be hospitalized while doctors set a treatment plan. Adelman missed practice Jan. 7, then missed his first game Jan. 8, a home win over the Atlanta Hawks with assistant Terry Porter filling in.

Any hopes the team had of navigating the tricky path without their coach ended with a wave of injuries. There were long-term injuries to Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Josh Howard and Malcolm Lee, Recently, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved sustained injuries that have kept them out for more than a week. Ricky Rubio is still working his way back from a torn ligament in his left knee last March.

A team that started the season with expectations of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004 is 17-24 - 12th place in the West. The Wolves have lost four straight, including a back-to-back on the road last weekend at Washington and Charlotte, where the Bobcats snapped a 16-game home losing streak.

Adelman has been in constant contact with his staff during his absence, speaking with Porter daily and with president of basketball operations David Kahn about possible roster moves. He returned for a brief meeting Jan. 16 to apprise his players of his situation and to give them a pep talk.

``We've got half the season left,'' Adelman said Monday. ``Even though a lot of things have been thrown our way, life moves on. You've got to find a way to get yourself energized and focus on what you can do right now. Like I told the team, everybody's got to do a little bit more.''

Pekovic and Shved returned to practice Monday and hope to be available Wednesday when the Wolves start a six-game homestand. Adelman's presence in practice gave the team a boost.

``It's already a big deal,'' forward Andrei Kirilenko said. ``You feel the positive emotions get back. You were feeling down, but now you feel everything getting back to normal.''

Those who know Adelman well speak with fondness about his love for Mary Kay. The rare smiles seen on the curmudgeonly coach's face usually come before games she attends, when he looks for her in the stands and gives her a wave before pregame introductions.

``Obviously he's had a difficult time,'' said Porter, whose relationship with Adelman dates to the late 1980s when he was a point guard on Adelman's Portland teams. ``For me, it was stepping in and doing the best I can to try to leave less stress on his plate, so to speak. It's part of my job too to be able to step up in there when it's called upon.''

Getting back on the court appeared to be good therapy for Adelman. The basketball lifer returned to the routine he's had for decades, and his mood lightened when asked about the job Porter has done. He joked about a $2,000 fine Porter incurred for a recent technical foul.

``I'll take some of the other stuff,'' Adelman said. ``But he's got to pay for his own technical.''

Adelman has tried to keep his wife's situation private. Two of their sons also work for the team - R.J. in the front office, David on the coaching staff. Both remained at work while their father was away.

``They're looking better,'' Adelman said. ``We're going to take it each day as it comes.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

When you know, you know.

Washington Wizards starting point guard Isaiah Thomas gave his take on former teammate Marcus Smart's reputation for flopping. Spoilers: he flops.

Thomas, who is returning to Boston on Wednesday for the first time as a starter, was teammates with Smart during his run with the Celtics from 2014-17. He didn't hold back from interrupting reporters to make sure everyone knows that Smart flops. (See the entire sequence play out in the video above.)

Despite being familiar with Smart, don't expect Thomas to know everything about how the Celtics will prepare for the Wizards. Thomas pointed out that only two of his former teammates are still with the team.

His history with Boston means a lot to Thomas, but his only focus on Wednesday will be earning the victory.

"The love is genuine between me and the city," Thomas said. "Hopefully we can just win the game. That's the most important." 

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Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson is starting to make people reconsider what they think of him. 

After the Ravens’ 49-13 win over the Bengals on Sunday, the rest of the NFL is starting to take notice about Lamar Jackson’s status in the NFL. Especially considering his spin move through the Bengals defense.

Hall of Fame NFL general manager Bill Polian recently admitted that he was wrong when he said that Jackson should be an NFL wide receiver during his draft process in 2018.

“I was wrong, because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian told USA TODAY Sports. 

Jackson is currently building an MVP case for himself and is on-pace for over 30 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. 

It’s a nice change of pace for the 22-year-old quarterback in his second year as a pro. Jackson had to face heavy criticism after he left Louisville for a variety of reasons headed into the draft. Even after he took over as the Ravens quarterback, those evaluations persisted. 

“We always knew what he was about,” Ravens center Matt Skura said. “We always knew his ability to make plays and all that stuff. I think it’s just people right now seeing it on a much larger scale and it’s just getting the attention now.”

At this point, however, it’s clear that not only is Jackson a quarterback, he might even be the MVP of the league.

Of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft, only four are starting and just two have led their teams to a winning record. Jackson leads all of his draft counterparts in total yards and total touchdowns. 

But as anyone in the Ravens’ locker room will say, the accolades don’t concern Jackson — only the record does.

“I think he’s more concerned with winning than anything,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “As individuals, we’ve all got people to prove wrong and things that we used to put a chip on our shoulder. At the end of the day, I know he’s more concerned with winning more than anything.”

Still, it’s noteworthy that it only took Jackson a complete season of starts, through two partial seasons, to begin the backtracking across the NFL landscape.

“If you watch ESPN or you watch TV, it’s going to come up no matter what,” Skura said. “Even on your Instagram feed it’s going to come up. I think for a lot of us, just in one ear and out the other as far as people pumping us up. You’ve kind of got to stay level-headed and ride the rollercoaster, so to say.”

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