PHOENIX – Ricky Rubio went back to work Tuesday as the Timberwolves starting point guard, recovered from both a bothersome hip that sidelined him by halftime Thursday in Los Angeles and from a grieving weekend trip to Spain when his grandmother died.
When asked Tuesday how he was doing, Rubio replied, “Good as I can be.”
His maternal grandmother’s death at age 78 came eight months after Rubio’s mother, Tona Vives, died from cancer in May at age 56.
“It’s hard,” Rubio said. “All my family is going through a tough time, and I’m not there with them. This is life. You have to go through tough moments.”
Rubio played against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Thursday night and was back in Minneapolis late Sunday night after a quick trip home to Barcelona.
“There are a lot of hours [traveling], but she deserve it,” he said. “She deserve it for me to be there.”
Rubio said his hip that tightened by halftime Thursday feels well enough for him to play. Rookie Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones played on in his absence and the Wolves beat both the Clippers and Denver.
“There are a lot of games during the season and you don’t feel 100 percent all the time,” he said, “but you just go out there and play with your heart.”
Rubio played nearly 34 minutes Tuesday and delivered a 14-point, 10-assist, 4-rebound night.
"Ricky was terrific," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The travel he had going on and to get back, he was right on it."
The case for Towns to be an All-Star
NBA coaches’ ballots for their conference’s All-Star Game reserves were due Tuesday. The seven reserves for both East and West teams will be announced Thursday night on TNT’s coverage.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ individual play and stats (22.5 points, 12 rebounds a game) supports his case to be included, but the Wolves’ 17-28 season start does not.
“I don’t know, that’s up to them to decide,” last year’s rookie of the year said. “I just go out here every night and put my heart on the line. … Whatever they choose, that’s what they choose.”
Towns had 18 points and 10 rebounds with two blocks Tuesday.
Zach is back, but …
Zach LaVine shot 5-for-21 from the floor and scored in single digits in his past two games before Tuesday’s 5-for-9, 11-point outing.
But he said his poor shooting had nothing to do with a hip contusion that sidelined him for two games two weeks ago.
“Everything’s fine, just not making shots,” LaVine said. “It’s a long season, so you have to stay with it. I’m 100 percent. I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Despite their 17-28 season start, the Wolves are only 2½ games out of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. Never mind that four other teams stand between them and it.
“It’s your job to know what’s going on,” Thibodeau said. “But at the same time I don’t want guys getting lost looking at a lot of other things other than daily improvement, what’s in front of us, prepare the best we can. If we’re doing the right things, we’ll continue to get better.”
Another piece to the puzzle
The Wolves’ new D-League team in Des Moines won’t be close enough to shuttle players between leagues in the same afternoon. But Thibodeau is pleased they’ll have their own team after they chose to buy the Iowa Energy for a variety of reasons, including financial.
“We’re excited and now we have to figure out how to use it effectively,” he said. “But we’ll figure it out. You look at everything and whatever the circumstances, you make the best of them.”
Huskies come out to support Chriss
The University of Washington team, including potential No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, attended Tuesday’s game to support Suns rookie and former Huskies star Marquese Chriss, who was the No. 8 pick in June’s draft.
Chriss scored five points with two rebounds and a block in 12 minutes Tuesday.