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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

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Back in action: Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio drives past Mavericks forward Shawn Marion on Saturday in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 114-106 in overtime. AP

T-Wolves triumph in OT in Rubio's return


MINNEAPOLIS — The white sleeve on Ricky Rubio's left knee served as a reminder of what he went through to get back on the court.

While it served to protect his surgically repaired joint, it clearly does nothing to constrict the creativity and unbridled joy that made him one of the most exciting players in the league before he went down last season.

Nine long months later, it's as if Rubio never left.

Zipping passes between his legs to his Timberwolves teammates in a dazzling season debut, Rubio had nine assists and eight points in 18 minutes of Minnesota's 114-106 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

Andrei Kirilenko scored five of his 14 points in overtime while Rubio watched from the bench because of a minutes restriction.

"I didn't feel nothing in the knee," Rubio said. "I feel great. . . . I feel 100 percent. I have some issues in other parts now, but it's just like a normal thing."

Nikola Pekovic scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who won their fourth straight game despite playing without All-Star Kevin Love because of an illness.

O.J. Mayo had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds and Shawn Marion had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who led by 13 early before Rubio came off the bench for the first time since he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in March.

More than 18,000 packed into Target Center in anticipation of Rubio's return and erupted at the mere sight of his face on the video board during pregame festivities. He received a standing ovation when he got off the bench to enter the game for the first time with 1:47 to go in the first quarter.

Rubio had four points, four assists and a steal in his first eight-minute shift, and the Wolves shifted into overdrive with Rubio's foot never letting off the gas. Even when he went to the bench, the Wolves closed the period on a 12-3 run.

"He's a terrific player and he played well," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Rubio. "You couldn't tell he's been out for a year. So give him credit."

Clippers 111, Bucks 85

In Milwaukee, Matt Barnes scored 21 points, Blake Griffin had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Los Angeles routed the cold-shooting Bucks for its ninth consecutive victory.

Warriors 115, Hawks 93

In Atlanta, David Lee had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Golden State completed an impressive road trip with a victory, going 6-1 against Eastern Conference teams.

Knicks 103, Cavaliers 102

In New York, Raymond Felton scored 25 points, Tyson Chandler had 23, and the Knicks earned their fourth straight win, overcoming Kyrie Irving's career-high 41 points and the absence of Carmelo Anthony.

Heat 102, Wizards 72

In Miami, LeBron James had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat never trailed.

Spurs 103, Celtics 88

In San Antonio, Tony Parker had 22 points and eight assists to help the Spurs get the win.

Grizzlies 99, Jazz 86

In Salt Lake City, Zach Randolph had 25 points and 16 rebounds, and Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak.

Magic 107, Bobcats 98

In Charlotte, Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo each scored 20 points as Orlando handed the Bobcats their 11th straight loss.

Bulls 83, Nets 82

In Chicago, Joakim Noah had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and helped force a key turnover as the Bulls rallied for the victory.

Marco Belinelli led Chicago with 19 points and made two free throws to cap an 8-0 run in the closing minutes.

Pacers 88, Pistons 77

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, David West had 23 points and George Hill added 18 points and seven assists to lead Indiana to the victory.

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