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What Are They Saying? | January 28 - February 4

“Because of Ricky Rubio’s ankle injury, he and Andrew Wiggins have played together just five percent of the Timberwolves’ minutes together this season. The early returns on that combination are strong, though. Minnesota outscores opponents by 12.7 points per 100 possessions with Wiggins and Rubio on the floor — as opposed to getting outscored by 10.7 per 100 overall.”

-- Dan Feldman, Pro Basketball Talk

“In some respects, nothing changed Monday night with the Timberwolves’ 100-94 loss at Dallas, the eighth defeat in their past nine games. In other ways, everything changed. Ricky Rubio is back.. … He played 21 minutes, went 4-for-9 from the field, scored 10 points and had four assists, three rebounds and three turnovers. He demonstrated confidence in a jump shot he worked hard on while he was away, found cutting Thaddeus Young with a couple of nifty bounce passes and connected with rookie Andrew Wiggins on an alley-oop pass that the No. 1 overall draft pick converted into a soaring slam dunk.”

-- Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune

“A day after Super Sunday, at long last, things were back under Rubio's control. The highlight-prone point guard made his long-awaited return from a severely-sprained left ankle, tallying 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and four assists in 21 minutes, 22 seconds during Minnesota's 100-94 loss at the American Airlines Center. It was Rubio's first game action since Nov. 7, when he drove hard to the rim against Orlando's Willie Green and landed on the side of his ankle in the Wolves' fifth game of the season. Rubio missed 42 contests — eight fewer than he did when an ACL tear in the same leg cost him part of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, his first two in the league.”

-- Phil Ervin, Fox Sports North

“Rubio's return on Monday night had the Timberwolves practically where the team left off when he got hurt: playing competitive basketball. If there was one player the Timberwolves need more than anyone, it's Rubio. There has been a lot said by casual observers of the team of how poor they've been this season, but those people have also been ignoring the nuance of Rubio's absence. While there are no guarantees, it stands to reason the Timberwolves would be in a slightly better place had Rubio not missed so much time. At the time of Rubio's injury, he was leading the league in assists, and becoming more efficient. You could even argue that the biggest beneficiary of Rubio's return will be Rubio considering the improvement he showed early on. Now, Rubio will be able to further his progress, and if history is any indicator, the team will progress as well.”

-- Derek James, 1500 ESPN

“As much as it sucked to see Rubio on the bench for the games’ stretch run, it was good to see the coaching staff manage Ricky’s minutes smartly in his first game back in nearly three months. And while theoretically they could’ve worked to ensure Rubio was on the floor for the final four minutes of the game, if he hadn’t come back when he did (down 12, just over 8:00 to go), “crunch time” might not have existed at all.”

-- William Bohl, A Wolf Among Wolves