CAVALIERS AT TIMBERWOLVES, 8 P.M. ET

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  • Rumors swept Minneapolis on Thursday that Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio was asking the team’s training staff to let him play against Cleveland, but general manager David Kahn said after the team’s morning shootaround that no such conversation had taken place. Rubio will not play tonight, Kahn said, putting off his return from knee surgery until at least next Wednesday’s home game against Denver. The unusual gap between games gives Rubio three more practices to prepare for his 2012 debut.
  • Andrei Kirilenko, who has missed the past four games with back spasms, felt much better Friday and will return to the starting lineup. Josh Howard has averaged 10.1 points in Kirilenko’s absence, and the team split four games, but coach Rick Adelman said the team has missed Kirilenko’s attention to defense.
  • Kahn also denied recent rumors that the Timberwolves are discussing a possible trade with the Los Angeles Lakers that would involved L.A. forward Pau Gasol and Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic. The teams haven’t talked since June, Kahn said. “What bothers me is, it has an impact on a team and its players and its family members,” Kahn said. “It’s not appropriate for that reason, if it’s not real.”
  • Injured guard Brandon Roy will return to the Wolves on Sunday after spending the past couple of weeks in Oregon rehabbing from an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. He remains a week or more away from being able to practice again, Kahn said.
  • Rookie guard Dion Waiters, averaging 15.2 points this season, remained in Cleveland to rehab the sprained left ankle that will cause him to miss his third consecutive game tonight. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Daniel Gibson. Kyrie Irving remains out as well due to broken left index finger.
  • The Cavs have assigned forward Jon Leuer to the Canton Charge of the NBA Developmental League. Friday’s game was to be a homecoming for Leuer, a Twin Cities native.
  • Cleveland center Anderson Varejao will be trying to extend his team-record streak of 10 consecutive games with 15 or more rebounds. Varejao has recorded 15 rebounds in 14 of the 18 games he has played.
  • The Cavs have won 10 of their last 12 games against Minnesota, including six of the last seven meetings in Target Center.
 – Phil Miller

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