DALLAS – Timberwolves newcomer Lorenzo Brown played 47 minutes and 55 seconds in Saturday’s home loss to Cleveland because his team had no other healthy point guards available.
By Monday’s game at Dallas, Wolves coach Flip Saunders had some options.
He got Ricky Rubio back and in the starting lineup after 42 games away because of a severely sprained left ankle and backup Mo Williams returned after he had missed three games because of a hip pointer.
“It changes everything,” Saunders said.
It allowed Saunders to start Rubio and bring Williams off the bench and Brown as a third point guard while rookie Zach LaVine sat out again because of an ankle he sprained Friday at Philadelphia.
Saunders used the phrase “work in progress” to describe the process of integrating Rubio along with newly added Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin into a lineup that forged ahead since November without them.
Saunders intended to limit Rubio to 20 minutes of action or fewer on Monday, while Williams had no restrictions in his first game back in a week. Williams injured his hip trying to fight through a screen at Atlanta on Jan. 25 and went 1-for-10 the next night in Oklahoma City trying to play with it.
“I was better letting it heal. I wasn’t actually helping the team trying to play through it,” Williams said.
The schedule-maker treated Williams right with an off-day Sunday back home in Dallas, on his son’s birthday no less.
“The schedule worked out perfect,” Williams said. “I had a chance to spend his birthday with him. Seeing the family always is a good thing obviously, since they’re away from him. I always feel good when I see the family. It’s like fresh air for me. I always kind of come back rejuvenated.”
He bought a suite for Monday’s game so family and friends could attend.
On the mend
Injured forward Shabazz Muhammad worked out hard before Monday’s game, and could return to play by this weekend, Saunders said Monday.
Muhammad missed his 13th consecutive game because of a strained outer-oblique muscle injury that took him to Vancouver last week for evaluation and treatment.
LaVine said his ankle feels “a lot better” and intends to practice on Tuesday. Saunders said he could play Wednesday against Miami.
Former Wolves guard J.J. Barea started against his old mates Monday because starting Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo is out for at least three games because of facial injuries suffered Saturday at Orlando.
Barea invited former teammates, including Rubio, Gorgui Dieng and Robbie Hummel, over to his place on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl.
“We had a bet between him and me,” Rubio said. “He bet for the Patriots, I bet for the Seahawks and it didn’t go well. It was a straight bet and I almost got it. I don’t know why they didn’t go for Marshawn Lynch, but I mean, it was a fun game to watch.”
• Dieng came off the bench for the second consecutive game when Saunders kept Martin in the starting lineup at shooting guard and kept Thaddeus Young at power forward alongside Pekovic at center and Andrew Wiggins at small forward.
• Dieng didn’t make a shot from the field (0-3) Saturday coming off the bench but he went 4-for-7 in the first half and had nine points and eight rebounds by halftime alone Monday.