Jan 21, 2012, 3:06 AM EST
For the first three quarters Friday night, the Ricky Rubio doubters out there — those that said his game would never translate to the NBA — had their chance to crow. “He can’t shoot” and he was 0-10 from the floor. “He can’t defend” and Mo Williams was tearing him apart (along with everyone else on the Wolves).
But he won Minnesota the game, beating the Clippers 101-98. He won it before Kevin Love got free for a game-winning three on a play Rick Adelman has been running since Brad Miller was the guy popping out. He won it before he knocked down his one shot from the field all game, a three from the right corner that tied the game with 20 seconds to go.
Before the dramatic finish, Ricky Rubio earned the Timberwolves a key road win by controlling the game in the fourth quarter, changing the pace and getting his guys the ball in position where they could do damage. He led the Timberwolves back from a double-digit deficit in the final 10 minutes to win. And in doing so showed a kind of veteran savvy and confidence that could take the Timberwolves a long way in a few years.
His game translates just fine. Thank you very much.
“He’s got a real gift,” according to Minnesota coach Rick Adelman. “He’s a great passer in the open court and he’s just a smart player. You’ve got to give him rope and let him go because he’s got that ability. And because of him, we’ve really kind of changed and simplified things we’ve done just to put the ball in his hands. He’s been better than I thought he was going to be.”
“He’s clever with the basketball,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He was getting in the lane on us, turning the corner on the elbow pick-and-roll….
“His penetration hurt us more than anything, even though he was missing shots. He was getting in the lane, then at the end with about 20 seconds to go he hits the three from the right corner.”
For most the way Friday night at Staples Center the Clippers were in control. And Rubio seemed out of it, unable to knock down shots or find the passing lanes he likes in the half court. After the game he admitted that the number of games he plays now — dramatically more than the two or so a week he did in Europe — has his legs tired and that was impacting his shot (he was shooting 42.5 percent on the season before this game and 40 percent from three). He talked about the need to get stronger so this is not a problem in the future.
But then came the fourth quarter, and it was different.
“(The fourth quarter) is when you have to control more of the game, it’s when I feel much better…” Rubio said. “We feel comfortable in the last quarter.”
The young Clippers had the chance to put the Timberwolves away for three quarters but never did. Rather than keep doing what had gotten them the lead in the first place, they went for the home run. There were some calls the Clippers didn’t like (Williams got ejected in the fourth) and that seemed to be their focus and not the game.
Rubio never lost focus. Minnesota came back when Rubio pushed the pace in the fourth quarter and finding ways to create. That was one of the questions about him coming into the NBA — will he really be able to make those passes in the NBA against better athletes?
“Over (in Spain) he would pretty much initiate the offense without creating as much,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We found out right away he can create and we are better off when he does that.”
He did that in the fourth. He wasn’t hitting shots but he was getting in the lane and drawing contact, getting to the free throw line eight times in the quarter. The other thing he does beautifully is drive at and occupy a help defender, all the while waiting for that defender’s man to cut to the basket so Rubio can pick up the assist. Rubio had three assists in the fourth quarter that were started by his penetration. He had a steal and a block, too.
Then there was the game-tying three. He was 0-10 yet he shot it with confidence. Something one expects of veterans.
The next play he defended Chauncey Billups well on the Clippers second to last possession, getting left on an island without help but staying in front and contesting a shot Billups missed. Rubio is not the most athletic guard on the planet, but he’s pretty long and uses his anticipation well.
Some people struggle with Rubio’s game because it is hard to define — it’s not like anyone else’s game. He is not the next Steve Nash or anyone else. Adelman is good with that — and thinks it translates to the NBA just fine.
“I think we get in trouble all the time in this league trying to manufacture players into who you want them to be and not let them be themselves,” Adelman said. “He’s been playing in the pros for so long, and when I watched him he has such great instincts….
“People ask me all the time if he is like Pete Maravich. No, no. Not even close. He’s a good young player who has a chance to have a very good future but sometimes people try to mark him as something he’s not right now. Let him develop. So far he’s doing great.”
Dec 19, 2013, 11:36 AM EST
After this play, you just thought it was the Celtics’ night. Turns out not so much (the Pistons came back to win). Still, this was a fantastic execution by the Celtics. With o.2 seconds left on the clock the only way to score was a tip in, and Jared Sullinger rolls to the basket (without…
Dec 19, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
It looks like Michael Jordan will have enough children to form his own basketball team. Jordan’s wife Yvette Prieto is pregnant with twins, reports TMZ. TMZ Sports has learned he’s having IDENTICAL twin girls. Michael’s wife, Yvette Prieto, is pregnant, though we don’t know how far along. They were married in April. Jordan has three…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EST
LeBron James didn’t do anything blatent here — he didn’t go for the ball or hit the shooters’ elbow — but make no mistake: He fouled Paul George on the game’s final shot. Despite some protestations of Pacers’ players there was no call and the Heat got a 97-94 win Wednesday night. George did a…
Dec 19, 2013, 10:13 AM EST
Andrea Bargnani made a play near the end of the first overtime session on Wednesday in Milwaukee that was as boneheaded as they come, and could’ve easily cost his desperate Knicks team a much-needed win. After a missed shot by Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler tipped out the offensive rebound, which landed in Bargnani’s hands. The…
Dec 19, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
The Jazz won an ugly one against a Magic team playing without Arron Afflalo on Wednesday, and Trey Burke thoroughly outplayed fellow rookie Victor Oladipo in the process. Burke finished with a career high 30 points, while Oladipo managed just three on 1-of-12 shooting in 36 minutes of action. But Orlando likes Oladipo for his…
Dec 19, 2013, 8:45 AM EST
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Dec 19, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
The Signature Series takes a look at a play that’s largely unique to one team. Here’s Golden State’s Elevator screen play: The “Elevator” screen is one of the most aesthetically pleasing plays you’ll see in the league, particularly when it’s run by Golden State. That’s in large part because any possession that ends in a…
Dec 19, 2013, 2:23 AM EST
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Dec 19, 2013, 12:40 AM EST
Kemba Walker just owned the Toronto Raptors. This was his game — 29 points on 18 shots, he could get into the paint or went 5-of-7 from three. Plus, he sank the game winner. The Bobcats had 1 second to get a shot off, the score tied 102-102 at the end of overtime. Walker comes…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:31 PM EST
The Knicks are prone to late-game lapses of judgment this season, and that trend continued on the road near the end of the first overtime session in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Leading by two points with under 20 seconds remaining after a miss by Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler tapped out the offensive rebound, and it landed…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 PM EST
In the second battle of the season between the two clear leaders of the Eastern Conference, the defending champs showed that they have more than enough talent to come away with a win if given even the smallest of windows to do so. The Pacers got out to a lead of as many as 15…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:52 PM EST
It’s been a running theme over the past few seasons in Miami, where the Heat veterans — namely LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — haven’t been at all shy about dressing down Mario Chalmers on the court following an in-game mistake. Two straight championships later, things apparently haven’t changed all that much. In the third…
Dec 18, 2013, 9:05 PM EST
Chase Budinger was expected to start and be a key part of the Minnesota attack — he can shoot the three and is very athletic so he can finish in transition. He’s a great fit with their Kevin Love/Ricky Rubio attack. However, for the second straight year Budinger has been sidelined by a knee injury…
Dec 18, 2013, 8:01 PM EST
Pau Gasol was off to a slow start this season, and after he and coach Mike D’Antoni traded jabs through the media about both his role and his performance, the Lakers had reportedly started to weigh their options by making Gasol available in trade long before the Feb. 20 deadline had begun to approach. Even…
Dec 18, 2013, 6:47 PM EST
The Lakers are playing without any healthy point guards at the moment, which is making things difficult on the team overall, but especially on Kobe Bryant. Bryant leads the league in turnovers with 5.7 per contest, and while he’s only played six games, it’s substantially more than Stephen Curry‘s 4.2 per game for the season.…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
The basketball gods can be cruel. The Washington Wizards were celebrating a dramatic win over the New York Knicks the other night — we focused on the Knicks’ failings but credit to the Wizards for making the right plans and knocking down the big shots. For a team with playoff dreams it was a win…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:11 PM EST
Damian Lillard nailed a three pointer from roughly Shaker Heights to give the Trail Blazers a dramatic 119-116 win over Kyrie Irving‘s Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. That prompted Kay Adams to start off this edition of PBT Extra with the question Lillard or Irving? We also talk about the rise of LaMarcus Aldridge to…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:19 PM EST
We told you Jordan Hamilton would be sitting out for this when it went down. Denver’s Hamilton has been suspended one game by the league for throwing this punch, striking the Thunder’s Steven Adams, the league announced Wednesday. Hamilton will sit Friday when the Nuggets play the Suns. The incident took place at the start…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
Houston’s Omer Asik is going to get traded Thursday. Not Wednesday —deals are still being hammered out. Not Friday — anyone acquired this day or later can’t be traded again at the February trade deadline in a combined deal with other teammates. It will happen Thursday. It looks more and more like the Celtics will…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:01 PM EST
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Southern Comfort’s “whatever’s comfortable” ad series included one with a skinny rocker white guy doing some karate moves in a the kind of hair salon your grandmother goes to. It was oddly compelling. Chris Webber decided to spoof this, for whatever reason. My guess…
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