European basketball stars Ricky Rubio, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol are all in the spotlight this December as they look to bounce back from injuries and lead their respective teams to success.
But whether NBA superstars are going through injuries, poor stretches on the floor or being the subject of constant trade rumors, they never fail to generate buzz throughout the year. And as the 2012-13 NBA regular season approaches the quarter mark, the aforementioned stars are making news.
Here we take a look at the latest news regarding some of the league's most prominent ballers.
Ricky Rubio Shines in First Game Back
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio was superb in his first game back from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered last March.
Rubio scored eight points and recorded nine assists in the T-Wolves win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Rubio only shot 1-of-4 from the field, but he went 6-of-8 at the foul line and dished out nine assists in just 18 minutes off the bench.
Rubio said the knee felt fine after the game:
I didn't feel nothing in the knee. I feel great...I feel 100 percent. I have some issues in other parts now but it's just like a normal thing.
Minnesota has won four straight games now to jump above .500 this season and move into the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference.
Nowitzki Nearing Return
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is improving after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery not long before the start of the 2012-13 season, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.
According to Sefko, Dirk has recently began participating in shooting and running drills, as well as Mavs shootaround, although he hasn't yet practiced with the rest of the team.
This from Sefko:
For now, Nowitzki spends a lot of his time running to midcourt, turning around, running back to the corner or the wing outside the 3-point line, and shooting a jump shot...He’s done some light sliding to his left and right, but still hasn’t put the knee to the test in terms of hard cutting.
The Mavs are struggling without Nowitzki, but understandably so, as they are missing a player who averaged nearly 22 points per game last regular season. Dallas is 11-13 through its first 24 games this season, all of which have been played without its star power forward.
Gasol Doesn't Regret Decision to Rest
Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol could be back on the court by Christmas, although nothing is for certain right now, as he rests and attempts to recover from knee tendinitis. But Gasol believes he made the right move to sit (via ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin):
It feels better. My knees feel better. My body overall feels better, just from not putting my body through the pounding and the load of the games.
Before sitting out, Gasol was struggling immensely. He was averaging just 12.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game despite playing nearly 35 minutes per night.
Gasol has still been the subject of countless trade rumors this season despite the Lakers having made it clear that they don't plan on making any roster moves until they see how the team performs with all its pieces on the floor at once.
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