MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Rubio tried to downplay his name in trade rumors but noted the emotional toll those rumors can take on players.
Thursday's deadline passed and Rubio was still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, with coach Tom Thibodeau saying the team didn't see any potential trades which would help the team fight to break a long postseason drought.
Rubio showed Friday just how vital he can be to Minnesota's hopeful playoff run.
Rubio had 13 points, 14 assists, five rebounds and three steals in the Timberwolves' 97-84 win against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
"Ricky is a big part of our team, not even just from a skill and leader standpoint; but just morale," center Karl-Anthony Towns said.
Towns had 26 points and 18 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points as Minnesota (23-35) recorded its third win in four games and pulled ahead of Dallas (22-35) in the Western Conference.
"What happened this week? Nothing happened, right?" Rubio deadpanned after the game.
He added: "It was a key game for us. They are right there fighting for the playoffs. We got a great opportunity after Denver lost last night. It's going to be like that every week now for the rest of the season. Every game is going to be a key. We have to be ready."
Seth Curry scored a career-high 31 points for the Mavericks, who were without new acquisition Nerlens Noel on Friday. Noel is expected to make his Dallas debut at home on Saturday against New Orleans.
Harrison Barnes added 20 points for the Mavericks, who have lost three in a row.
"I thought they played with more overall force for the sum total of the game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "That can't happen, especially on the road. We just got to do better in a lot of little areas. This game is turning into a game of very thin margins for a lot of teams. We're one of them and Minnesota's one of them."
The Mavericks used a 12-4 run at the start of the fourth quarter to tie the game 75-75. Dallas would never lead, though, and Minnesota answered with a 7-0 run.
Barnes pulled the Mavericks within two with a 3-point with 5:57 left, but the Timberwolves closed the game on a 15-4 run as Rubio had four points and two assists in the final stretch.
"He just controls the ball, controls the pace of the game, puts everyone in position to score and make a play for each other," Wiggins said of Rubio.
Wiggins, coming off back-to-back 40-point games, controlled the first quarter with 16 points for Minnesota, while Dallas had six turnovers in the first.
The Mavericks entered the game averaging the fewest turnovers in the NBA with 11.6 per game. They finished with 16 for the game.
"Just some sloppy play, some bad passes, things like that," Curry said. "Just coming in off the break kind of sloppy with it. We usually don't turn it over as much. This year we've been pretty good with that. We got to be better."
Dallas then missed nine of their first 10 shots to start the second quarter as the Wolves built a 13-point lead and Towns got going. Towns was scoreless until hitting a hook shot with 7:39 left in the second period.
Curry was busy keeping Dallas close. He had 12 points in the first half and hit two 3s. Yogi Ferrell, who took over the starting point guard spot with Deron Williams being waived on Thursday, was in early foul trouble and Curry had to man the point.
Ferrell had averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists in his first 10 games with the Mavericks. He had just five points and four assists on Friday.
NOTES: Mavericks PG J.J. Barea missed his 14th straight game with a left calf strain. ... Minnesota activated F Adreian Payne, but he was unavailable for the ninth straight game as he deals with thrombocytopenia. ... Timberwolves F Andrew Wiggins scored at least 20 points for the 16th straight game, tying the franchise record set by Kevin Garnett. Garnett accomplished the feat twice. ... Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns had his 13th straight game with at least 20 points but also had seven turnovers. ... Dallas is 8-21 on the road this season. ... The Wolves shot 52.6 percent from the field. They are 12-3 when shooting at least 50 percent. ... Minnesota travels to Houston to face the Rockets on Saturday.