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“Terrible news,” Wolves forward Derrick Williams tweeted. “Pray for my boy.”

He has been playing professionally since he was 14 years old in Spain, and all that experience has served him well in his first NBA season. Rubio quickly picked up Adelman’s offense when the lockout ended and has already asserted himself as a leader, with a steady hand on the ball and an underrated effect on the team’s defense.

Rubio is averaging 2.2 steals per game and is one of the better help defenders on the perimeter in the league.

It wasn’t just the Timberwolves and local fans that were taking notice.

“He just has great anticipation defensively,” Bryant said. “He reads the floor extremely well, he’s extremely patient. He’s developing more and more confidence with his jump shot. I don’t know what … they’re doing in Spain to develop their individual talent, but they’re doing something right.”

Several of the game’s biggest stars, including Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade tweeted well wishes to Rubio on Saturday.

“Ricky Rubio’s injury isn’t 1 that any basketball fan wanted 2 C,” Wade tweeted. “He’s had an amazing rookie season & has brought life back 2 a franchise.”

Most importantly, Rubio’s play has translated to victories. The Timberwolves were eighth in the West, putting them in position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2004, before losing to the Lakers on Friday night to fall a half-game behind Houston.

Guard J.J. Barea is also injured, with a sprained left ankle keeping him out of the game against the Lakers and making him questionable for the game against New Orleans on Saturday night. That means Luke Ridnour, who has been starting at shooting guard with Rubio at the point, is the only player with experience playing the point guard on the roster.

The Wolves called up second-round draft pick Malcolm Lee from the D-League on Friday, but he has yet to play in a game in his rookie season because of a knee injury.

Minnesota has one more game at home before embarking on a demanding two-week road trip that could define its season.

“We have 25 games left this season,” Kahn said, “and I look for our team to continue to play hard and fight for a playoff spot.”