WASHINGTON - Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio's season for the Minnesota Timberwolves is over and he will likely miss the London Olympics after suffering a torn left knee ligament, the NBA club said Saturday.
The 21-year-old rookie standout suffered the torn anterior-cruciate ligament Friday in a 105-102 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the T-Wolves' 18th loss in a row to the Lakers.
With recovery time from such injuries typically six to nine months, the injury almost certainly dooms his hopes to play for Spain in July at the London Olympics, a major setback for a strong Spanish side filled with NBA talent.
"We're all disappointed," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "I feel for him with the summer coming up. If anybody can do everything he can do to get back where he was, he will."
Rubio moved to help defend Lakers star Kobe Bryant in the final seconds and the Spaniard's left knee buckled just before he and Bryant collided. Rubio was called for a foul and Bryant sank game-winning free throws.
Rubio was helped into the locker room by teammates and walked out of the arena with the help of a friend, taking with him much of the energy that had given Timberwolves fans hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
"He does so many things for us," Adelman said. "He gives us a lot of intangibles."
Rubio was averaging 10.6 points 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game for Minnesota.
"He was having a great year. We'll miss him," Adelman said. "He sets a great tone for your team. But he's young and he's so competitive. He will get through this and he will be back.
"It's just too bad. He had such an influence on our team. You feel for him."
At 21-20, the T-Wolves rank ninth in the Western Conference, one loss behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West,
"We're still in it. I don't see any reason to back away from that," Adelman said. "They've worked to get to this point. We want to keep going. We may get beat but we're going to battle."
Minnesota fans have waited for Rubio for years since he was drafted as a teen prodigy and honed his talents in Spain, becoming the youngest Spanish league player in history at age 14.
Now the Timberwolves must consider making a deal before Tuesday's trade deadline to help them the rest of the way this season.
"We haven't even sat down and talked about it," Adelman said. "It's still kind of a shock for everybody."
Other players will have to handle the ball more and become more dynamic playmakers in Rubio's absence.
"We still want to push the ball if we can," Adelman said. "He had the ball in his hands a lot. It's going to change things. We're going to have to tinker with it and try to figure things out as we go.
"Different guys are going to have to step up and do more. We've been playing at a high level. You can't step backwards. You don't have time to get down."
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