by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

From the moment Ricky Rubio returned following major left knee surgery, it was made clear to everyone that his playing time would be limited. The Minnesota Timberwolves understandably want to be as careful as possible with the prized point guard, and with their season in free fall at this point, there’s added incentive not to push their luck with Rubio’s health.

This doesn’t mean that Ricky Rubio is completely on board with plan, especially not when he gets benched in the fourth quarter of yet another crushing defeat.

Acting head coach Terry Porter went with JJ Barea instead of Rubio last night, during a loss to the visiting Brooklyn Nets, and the young Spaniard told the media that he was angry with the decision.

Per the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune:

Adding to another loss by the Timberwolves — their seventh in the past eight games — was Ricky Rubio’s candid disappointment over not playing in the fourth quarter of a 91-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Target Center on Wednesday night, Jan. 23. It was the first time this season Rubio has not made an appearance in the fourth quarter, prompting Rubio to seek an explanation from head coach Terry Porter.

“I want to know what happened,” Rubio said. “We’re going to talk. ‘TP’ preferred to play the other players who were playing. I don’t know what to say. I don’t like it.” [...] “Yeah,” Rubio said when asked if he was upset, “but it is what it is. T.P. preferred to play players who were playing. I don’t know what to say, you know.”

Ricky Rubio was on the floor for 24 minutes last night, which is less than the team-imposed limit of 26-28. Rubio’s comeback from knee surgery has been difficult, as he continues to struggle with his shot-making, defense and health (Ricky admitted on Tuesday that his surgically-repaired knee still hurts.)

As for the Timberwolves’ losing ways, here’s how the point guard assessed their bleak state of affairs: “It’s hard for us to finish games,” Rubio said. “We have to want to win. Sometimes it seems that we don’t want to win.”