SAN ANTONIO - Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea rejoined the team for Sunday's game and played 19 minutes in a 106-88 loss to the Spurs after he received an injection and treatment on his bad back from a Dallas doctor last week.
"A lot better now than I was," he said Sunday.
Barea said his back had bothered him for two weeks before he woke up in Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning after a home game against Atlanta the night before and could barely move.
He traveled to Dallas that day and sought treatment from a renowned Puerto Rican neurosurgeon with whom he and his family became friendly during his five seasons playing for the Mavericks.
Barea said he was diagnosed with a slightly herniated disk in his lower back and received an epidural steroid injection that provided almost immediate relief.
"They took care of it pretty quick," he said. "I think it was the right thing to do. It was nothing bad. It was better than what I thought it'd be."
He was given a 30-minute workout routine to strengthen his back and core muscles that he said he'll have to do daily "so it will never happen again." He said he does not expect to need regular injections.
Barea made four of 11 shots, scored 15 points and had six assists in those 19 minutes.
"I got a little tired there the second half, but it felt good," Barea said. "I was going to play normal. I told them if I got tired, I'd ask for a sub. And I got tired, so I asked for a sub."
Wolves eye Gelabale
The Wolves appear close to signing athletic European swingman Mickael Gelabale, whose defense and three-point shooting would address two of the injury-riddled team's biggest needs.
The Wolves have shown interest in Gelabale, 29, for weeks. A European Internet report on Sunday said he had reached agreement with an NBA team. Wolves boss David Kahn said the team remains interested but wouldn't answer when asked if the Wolves had reached an agreement to sign Gelabale when Lazar Hayward's 10-day contract ends Thursday.
"We are working on some things," Kahn said.
Gelabale can leave his Spanish team for the NBA if he does so by Jan. 30. He played two seasons with Seattle from 2006 to 2008.
Adelman remains away
Wolves coach Rick Adelman missed his fourth consecutive game Sunday and is not expected to coach Monday in Dallas.
Adelman left the team before Tuesday's game against Atlanta to be with his wife, Mary Kay, who remains hospitalized in Minnesota while doctors continue to do tests.
Top assistant Terry Porter continues to coach the team in Adelman's absence.
There was a crowd of autograph seekers waiting outside the Wolves' San Antonio hotel when they returned from practice Saturday afternoon, but they weren't there waiting for international icon Ricky Rubio.
"It was all Justin Bieber," Rubio said about the pop star who played AT&T Center on Saturday night.
Veteran teammates last season gave Rubio a Bieber backpack and made him carry it with him on road trips. He was asked if he had Bieber sign the backpack Saturday.
"No, but I still have it," he said. "I'm going to keep it."
Then and now
Porter played the last three of his 17 NBA seasons in San Antonio and was just leaving the league when Spurs star Tony Parker arrived as an unknown rookie from France.
"I remember seeing the back of his jersey in practice many a time, as he flew by me," Porter said. "I said, 'OK, the game has changed a little bit.' He was just so explosive."
• Spurs guard Manu Ginobili strained his left hamstring in Sunday's first half and did not return to the game. He scored 12 points in 12 minutes before getting injured.
• Rubio again was held to a playing-time limit on Sunday. He played 22 minutes off the bench and went 0-for-6 from the floor. He said Friday that he expects to talk with doctors about letting him play unlimited minutes and that he hopes that will come "soon."