Timberwolves-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 24, 2013
The Washington Wizards have found some stability since John Wall returned from injury. Getting Ricky Rubio back hasn't had that effect for the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves. Back from their western swing, Wall and the Wizards will try to extend their season-high home winning streak to four on Friday night when the Timberwolves try to get on track with the first of two straight against the Eastern Conference's two worst teams. Since making his season debut seven games ago following a stress injury to his left kneecap, Wall is averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 assists off the bench as the league-worst Wizards (9-31) slowly work him back into game shape. That cautious approach has worked so far, as Washington has won four times since the former No. 1 overall pick returned. The Wizards are scoring 98.9 points per game on 46.0 percent shooting with Wall, improving their league-low averages to 90.9 and 41.7. "The last eight games we've built a good, solid round of basketball, and we've got to continue to build on that and not take any steps backward, moving forward when we get back from the (2-3) trip,'' coach Randy Wittman said after that stretch ended with a 92-88 loss to Utah on Wednesday. Washington begins a three-game homestand with a chance to win four straight in the nation's capital for the first time since the last four of 2010-11. The Timberwolves (17-22), meanwhile, have lost their last five on the road by an average of 15.0 points. They've dropped eight of 10 overall since Kevin Love re-injured his right hand, and they've played the last three without point guard Alexey Shved (left ankle) and center Nikola Pekovic (right quadriceps). Shved and Pekovic did not travel with the team, which also plays at Charlotte on Saturday. The loss of Shved leaves few backcourt options for Terry Porter, who has led the team to a 2-7 record since coach Rick Adelman left to be with his sick wife. Rubio wasn't Porter's choice for the entire fourth quarter of Wednesday's 91-83 loss to Brooklyn, and the Spaniard didn't hide his displeasure about J.J. Barea staying in the game. Rubio slightly backed off those comments after Thursday's practice, but added: "I always want to play, even when I don't deserve it." Rubio returned to the starting lineup four games ago, but his play in 14 games since returning from a torn ACL and LCL doesn't scream for more playing time. He's shooting 24.6 percent and averaging 4.2 points and 5.0 assists. Rubio missed a four-game stretch from Dec. 29-Jan. 5 with back issues, and he's clearly not 100 percent after admitting this week there is still pain in his surgically repaired knee. Teammates, though, respect his competitive nature. "He wants to play," forward Derrick Williams said Thursday. "We were both in that situation (in the fourth quarter) yesterday. You've just got to keep your head high, stay focused. We've got more games to win.'' Rubio came off the bench Jan. 8, 2012, and finished with 13 points, a career-high 14 assists and six rebounds in a 93-72 victory that ended the team's seven-game skid at Washington. Wall missed seven of 10 shots and scored 10 points in that contest as the Wizards shot a season-low 34.5 percent at home. Washington set season highs for points and shooting percentage (56.1) in its last game in the nation's capital, a 120-91 victory over Orlando on Jan. 14.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dallas Cowboys' team employee bus involved in fatal crash

Aldon Smith posts video under a pseudonym of a blunt on Periscope

WATCH: Cam Newton get blocked by a girl playing volleyball

Russia avoids complete ban from Rio Olympics by the IOC

Report: Padres trying to move Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Baseball's top prospect called up to majors by Astros

Report: Braves 'aggressively' shopping Francoeur, Aybar

Report: Hue Jackson designing plays for Terrelle Pryor

Report: Darnell Dockett expected to announce retirement

Report: Yankees have not discussed releasing A-Rod

Report: D-Backs making Shelby Miller available via trade

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

Eight most significant injuries going into NFL training camp

Man. U players banned from playing 'Pokemon Go?'

Ken Griffey Jr. put on backwards hat during HOF speech

Mike Piazza honors 9/11 victims during Hall of Fame speech

Jeremy Lin hints he is racially profiled by arena employees

Why did Rio mayor offer to put kangaroo in Olympic village?

Joe Maddon wastes no time cracking Chris Sale joke

Report: Lamar Odom walked out on family intervention

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker