Rubio returns for Timberwolves
by Pat Borzi, USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS – Ricky Rubio’s return from left knee surgery tonight against the Dallas Mavericks does not lessen the standing-room-only crowd in the Minnesota Timberwolves training room. But it will test who brings more star power – the flashy, floppy-haired Spanish point guard, or the rugged Kevin Love.
The Wolves announced Rubio’s return on the team’s web site at about noon on Saturday, an attempt to move most of the 2,500 tickets remaining for the Target Center. When Love came back unexpectedly early return from a broken right hand on Nov. 21, a late-day social media blitz triggered a modest walkup sale of 1,000, about 200 more than normal.
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said he planned to use Rubio off the bench for 16 to 18 minutes, paired in the backcourt with J.J. Barea. It will be Rubio’s first game action since he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his knee last March 9 against the Lakers.
“If you want him to get a good run in, bringing him in off the bench is the way to do it,” Adelman said. The break between the first and second quarters, and TV timeouts late in the first and early in the second quarters, will allow Rubio to play an uninterrupted stretch and still get some rest, Adelman said.
“The biggest thing we’ll still be very diligent about is how he reacts,” Adelman said. “He hasn’t had any setbacks. He’s had normal soreness you have in training camp from going out and playing, but hasn’t had anything in his knee. That’s a good sign. We still have to watch him. You just can’t throw him out there and play him 30 minutes.”
Rubio declined to speak with reporters pre-game – “He wants to treat this like a regular game,” a Wolves spokesman said – but the team released a statement that quoted him saying: “I’m excited to get back on the floor with my teammates and play in … [For more on Ricky Rubio returns for Timberwolves against Mavericks, click here.]