Nine months after major knee surgery, Ricky Rubio could possibly return to the Minnesota Timberwolves' lineup on Saturday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
"He's very close," head coach Rick Adelman said of Rubio before Friday's game against the New Orleans Hornets. "If the medical people feel he's ready to go, we'll take that step. If he plays, we don't know how much. There's always caution."
Rubio's presence would help a Minnesota team that has been crushed all season by injury. Already without shooting guards Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee, Rubio could provide needed depth.
The Timberwolves didn't escape their 113-102 win over the Hornets completely healthy. Kevin Love, who missed the early part of the season with a broken hand, jammed his thumb, but X-rays were negative. Josh Howard hyperextended his right knee and didn't return after the injury.
With most of the stories on the Timberwolves of late focusing on All-NBA forward Love and his interview with Yahoo, where he declared some dissatisfaction with the organization, lost in it all is the fact the Wolves are playing some good ball.
The T-Wolves have won three straight and five of their last six. Minnesota is also riding a three-game home winning streak into Saturday night's contest.
The Mavericks are sliding in a different direction. After a three-game winning streak seemingly cured some of the team's woes, the Mavs have dropped their last two.
First, Dallas dropped a heartbreaker in Boston to the Celtics, 117-115 in double-overtime. On Friday, the Mavs were downright awful in an ugly 95-74 throttling by the Raptors in Toronto.
In the loss, where the Mavs turned it over 17 times, their NBA record streak of 1,108 games with a made 3-pointer ended. Derek Fisher hit what appeared to be a 3-pointer early in the fourth, but it was reviewed and gone was a mark that started on Feb. 27, 1999.
"We played poorly and they played great. I don't know how else to sum it up. It's as simple as that," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "Tonight's over and we've got to get out of here, get through customs somehow, make sure that everybody is legal getting out of the country and we've got to get ready for a game tomorrow."
The Timberwolves bested the Mavericks in Dallas on Nov. 12, 90-82. The Mavs are 10-1 in their last 11 games at the Target Center.