Barea uncertain to play vs. Heat

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2011 - 11:00 PM

Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea's hurting hamstring felt much better on Thursday. The question is: Will it improve enough by Friday night to allow him to play against Miami?

Barea learned Wednesday that his hamstring -- injured while going for a layup Tuesday in Milwaukee -- is only strained, not torn.

"I was a little scared yesterday, but found out no tear, no nothing," Barea said Thursday. "It's a lot better today. It's just swollen and bruised up. We'll see how it feels tomorrow and we'll go from there."

He didn't practice Thursday, when coach Rick Adelman returned to the team after attending a family funeral on Tuesday.

"I've never had one before," Barea said of the hamstring injury. "I'm kind of mad these last couple days. I'm never hurt in the last five years. If I miss one game a season, that's a lot."

The Wolves listed him as doubtful for Friday.

"I don't know, I don't want to say no or yes yet," he said. "But we'll see. Definitely on Sunday, though."

Sunday? What's Sunday? Oh, yeah, a game against his former Dallas team.

"Just another game, just another game," he said, grinning. "It will be weird, but it will be fun."

Injury update

Center Nikola Pekovic returned to practice Thursday, but only worked half-court because of a strained left groin sustained in the preseason finale. Adelman said he won't be ready to play Friday.

Neither will rookie guard Malcolm Lee, who is expected to get doctors' opinions on his sore knee. Lee had surgery to repair a MCL after the college season last March.

Ups and downs

Adelman watched Tuesday's loss at Milwaukee on replay and saw a 25-turnover game that was reflected in ESPN's highlights.

When asked about rookie Ricky Rubio's first two NBA games, he said, "The first night, Ricky did some really nice things, and the other night I turn on SportsCenter after the Milwaukee game and they showed all his turnovers. That's the way it goes."

Hello, again

Miami stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh know a little something about Rubio, even though they've never played an NBA game against him.

"I saw enough of him in the Olympics," Bosh said of the 2008 Beijing Games, when Rubio played for Spain at age 17. "He has just an ultimate knack for passing. He can run an offense and when he gets out, he's better in that fast-paced spread offense because he can just see things before they even happen."

James praised Rubio's passing in a tweet after he saw highlights of Rubio in Monday's season opener.

"Exactly what I said: He can pass the ball," James said when asked about Rubio. "He's got great instincts. He sees a lot of plays happening before they happen. I think he's a really good point guard."

Talking 'bout Love

James has an opinion on Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love, too.

"He's just putting up great numbers," he said. "He's a good player, he's a great player. He won't wow you and get highlights above the rim. But every night, you see his stats and you're seeing 24 and 15 or 30 and 17, whatever the case may be. And he's consistent with it. He's a franchise player for this team."

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