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Ricky Rubio impresses in first game back with Timberwolves, an overtime win over Dallas

Dec 16, 2012, 12:01 AM EDT

Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves lineup on Saturday, his first game action since tearing two knee ligaments last March.

In his first stint back, it was as though he never left.

Rubio was dazzling in his relatively brief appearance, and his mere presence brought an energy to the game that the Mavericks, over the course of the evening, were largely unable to match. After trailing by as many as 13 early, Minnesota got the overtime victory 114-106, to improve to 12-9 on the season.

Rubio was on a minutes limit, and was targeting playing 16-18 minutes in his return. T’Wolves head coach Rick Adelman spaced out Rubio’s minutes to perfection, choosing to bring him off the bench both late in the first quarter, and then again at the 4:37 mark of the third.

He even saved a couple of minutes just in case they were needed, which they were down the stretch as Dallas made a furious comeback to send the game into overtime, an extra session that Rubio was forced to watch from the bench.

Rubio’s final statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive — eight points, nine assists, three steals, and two turnovers in 18 minutes of action. Believe it or not, the assist numbers could have been much higher. Rubio had several passes that were right on target to open teammates who ended up with spectacular looks, but simply couldn’t finish.

The impact Rubio had on this game, however, went far beyond the box score.

When he checked in late in the first quarter to a wild ovation from the crowd, his team hadn’t yet found any flow, and was trailing by 10. The array of lobs, behind-the-back passes, and even one through a defender’s legs energized the building, and by the time he checked out at the 6:16 mark of the second, the Mavericks lead was down to two, and was erased entirely by a three-pointer from Alexey Shved on the very next possession.

The court vision that Rubio possesses is a rare gift, and one that’s on display from the moment he steps on the floor, no matter how long it’s been since he’s done so. The passes are almost always delivered with laser-accuracy, right on time, and to teammates that have to either be fouled or botch the play entirely for the ball not to end up going through the basket.

It wasn’t all perfect for Rubio on this night; he fouled Derek Fisher a couple of times down the stretch that gave Dallas unguarded points from the free throw line needlessly, and missed an open look from three-point distance with three seconds left that would have been the game-winner.

But that would have been too perfect an ending.

It was more than enough that he was finally back at all, and was able to showcase the energy, vision and flair that we saw from him a season ago in his very first game back.

  1. mickbong - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    How is 8 points 9 assists and 3 steals not impressive in 18 mins?

  2. aceinthehole12 - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    So glad Rubio is back !

    • scalfor3 - Dec 17, 2012 at 12:35 AM

      whoever thumbed this down doesn’t like basketball

  3. eventhorizon04 - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    “Rubio’s final statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive — eight points, nine assists, three steals, and two turnovers in 18 minutes of action.”

    Actually, that’s pretty solid considering how few minutes he played.
    If he had played 36 minutes (around what a regular starter plays), at that rate, he finishes with 16 points, 18 assists, 6 steals, and just 4 turnovers.

    That’s a great game for any point guard in the NBA.

  4. bleedburgandyandgold - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    He sure is a joy to watch! Can’t wait till he can play a full game.

  5. cameltoehoe - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Hope he tears an ACL

    • packfaninvikeland - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:31 AM

      lazy troll is lazy

    • money2long - Dec 16, 2012 at 5:57 AM

      u must be that nike dude that was making fun of rose cuz he signed with adidas.

  6. monkeyhateclean - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Meh, once Mayo ditches them at the end of this season, the Mavs will be a lottery team for the foreseeable future, so crushing the Mavs is not a quality win, especially since its increasingly unlikely that Nowitzki ever plays another NBA minute.

    Why would Nowitzki risk his health to rejoin a team whose only other NBA legit player will bail to the highest bidder next year, and be forced to play before the worst fans in the worst NBA city. On general principal, Dallas, its football stadium, its basketball arena, its NFL owner, and any surrounding suburbs should be nuked from orbit.

    Its the only way to be sure.

    • savvybynature - Dec 16, 2012 at 1:20 AM

      I think Mavs make the playoffs this year, and are an increasingly likely destination for D12 next season (for better or worse).

      I’m a Spurs fan, but I give them credit for being a well-run organization.

  7. limonadamas - Dec 16, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    “Rubio’s final statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive…”

    I dunno… 8 points, 9 assists, and 3 steals in only 18 minutes seems pretty impressive to me!

  8. jessethegreat - Dec 16, 2012 at 1:18 AM

    Welcome back! This kid is one of the most entertaining guys to watch in the watered down NBA of today!

  9. hurrayforyogapants - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    I’m Ricky Rubio, I’m not like anybody else.

  10. trschlicht - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    Both of those fouls on Fisher were horrendous calls

  11. msuspartan89 - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Ricky Rubio

    What a hottie!

  12. tomasekradek - Dec 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    “Rubio’s final statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive — eight points, nine assists, three steals, and two turnovers in 18 minutes of action.”

    not impressive? maybe his shooting is not impressive at all but try to double those numbers (btw +4 rbs). and now? impressed enough?

  13. trs3169876 - Dec 16, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    “Rubio’s final statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive — eight points, nine assists, three steals, and two turnovers in 18 minutes of action.” How is that not an impressive stat line?

  14. willardj - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    “statistical line on the night wasn’t all that impressive”

    Are you not familiar with typical box scores? If Rubio had played 36 minutes, like he usually does, he would have had 16 points, 18 assists, and 6 steals. So having those numbers in only 18 minutes is actually a really good stat line.

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