NBA standings 2012: Timberwolves remain in second place in the Northwest after win over New Orleans

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Minnesota managed to stay above .500 with the return of Ricky Rubio expected Saturday when they host the Dallas Mavericks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves picked up a big road win in what could have been the last game before the return of Ricky Rubio, knocking off New Orleans 113-102 Friday.

Minnesota improved to 11-9 on the season. It was the Wolves' third win in a row, staying 6.5 games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest. The Wolves will host Dallas Saturday, and Rubio's return is expected in that game.

The Thunder (19-4) defeated Sacramento 113-103 Friday, their 10th consecutive victory. They'll host San Antonio Dec. 17.

Utah saw its four-game winning streak snapped Friday after a 99-84 loss at Phoenix. The Jazz remain tied with Minnesota for second place in the division. Utah will host Memphis Saturday.

Denver (12-12) remains one game behind Minnesota and Utah, defeating Memphis at home 99-94 Friday. The Nuggets are 7.5 games behind Oklahoma City. The Nuggets are at Sacramento Dec. 16.

Portland's 98-90 win over San Antonio Dec. 13 moved the Blazers to 10-12 on the season, bringing up the rear in the Northwest division. They'll host New Orleans Dec. 16.

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