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Rubio’s return sparks Wolves late in 102-101 win over Heat

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Martin scored 30 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame another monster game from Hassan Whiteside to beat the Miami Heat, 102-101 on Wednesday night.

Thaddeus Young had 16 points and five steals, Ricky Rubio added eight points and nine assists in his first home game since Nov. 1, and the Timberwolves (9-40) erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Whiteside scored a career-high 24 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and set a Heat record by making his first 11 shots. Luol Deng added 18 points but Norris Cole missed an open 3-pointer in the closing moments, allowing the Wolves to escape.

Dwyane Wade missed his fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring for the Heat, and coach Erik Spoelstra said the star guard will not play Friday at San Antonio in the finale of a four-game road trip.

It’s still not clear if Wade will be available to play in the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15.

The Wolves trailed 88-78 with under nine minutes to play and had been thrashed on the boards by Whiteside, who has become something of an NBA sensation over the last month.

But Minnesota ripped off a 20-6 run and got two of its three offensive rebounds for the game on one possession in the closing two minutes. Andrew Wiggins scored for a 100-97 lead.

Deng came back with a jumper, and Chris Bosh’s elbow jumper gave Miami a 101-100 lead with 50 seconds to play.

Martin hit a jumper 9 seconds later and Rubio forced a turnover to help the Wolves hold on.

The Heat got a scare in the first quarter when Mario Chalmers had to be helped off the court after slamming into a chair while chasing a loose ball. He was taken for X-rays, which were negative. He was able to return to the game, a rare bit of good news on the injury front for the battered Heat.

Rubio returned from a 42-game absence Monday night in Dallas, and he’ll be on a minutes restriction until the All-Star break. This was his first home game since a loss to the Bulls at the start of November, and he had it going early in the game with seven assists in his first 7 minutes.

His no-look beauty to Anthony Bennett in transition ended with an emphatic slam, and Rubio fed Thaddeus Young for a layup moments later for a 40-31 lead against a Heat team that came out flat on the second night of a back-to-back.

But Whiteside dominated the boards and the Heat turned up the defensive pressure to climb back into the game.

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TIP-INS

Heat: Whiteside finished 12 of 13 from the field. His 11 for 11 was the longest perfect start in a game this season, besting Brooklyn’s Jarrett Jack and Milwaukee’s Jared Dudley, who each started a game 10 for 10. Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka had a 12 for 12 start last season. … After managing three points in 75 minutes in a loss to Detroit on Tuesday night, Chalmers (12), Cole (15) and Shabazz Napier (six) combined for 33 points in 82 minutes.

Timberwolves: Wiggins was selected Western Conference rookie of the month for January, the third straight month he’s won the award. … Coach Flip Saunders said F Shabazz Muhammad (oblique) is getting closer to returning. Saunders estimated Muhammad could be back as soon as Friday.

UP NEXT

Heat: Visit San Antonio on Friday night.

Timberwolves: Host Memphis on Friday night.

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