Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio to play Saturday against L.A. Clippers

Associated Press and staff reports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says point guard Ricky Rubio is available to play against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night after missing the previous five games with a sprained right elbow.

Thibodeau told reporters after the team’s morning shootaround that Rubio responded well to practice on Friday and was ready to go.

Rubio was injured at Sacramento during the second game of the season. He stayed in the Twin Cities during the team’s recent three-game road trip to rehab his injury and was able to practice fully on Friday.

Getting Rubio back will be key for the Timberwolves, who are off to a disappointing 2-5 start. Rookie Kris Dunn started in his place and second-year player Tyus Jones served as the primary backup.

But coach Tom Thibodeau said Rubio’s veteran savvy has been missed.

“Just the way he can push the ball,” he told the Star Tribune. “His decisionmaking and team defense. He’s all over the place. He brings a lot of energy. In transition, he’s such a good decisionmaker. He gets you a lot of easy baskets. And he knows how to move the ball around. That’s probably what we missed the most. I thought Kris had some good moments for us, and Tyus did as well.’’

With Dunn in Rubio’s spot the Timberwolves boast a starting unit with four of the five players aged 22 or younger, which might explain some of the growing pains Thibodeau’s team is dealing with early on this season.

“It was awesome to see him back,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We missed him. We miss his presence, even off the court.’’

Said Shabazz Muhammad: “He looked sharp. I told him it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.”