Ricky Rubio is so amped about all the fun he's about to have. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports Images)
For the Minnesota Timberwolves, what started as a season full of hope for a playoff berth and a leap back into the ranks of legitimate NBA contention has fallen off a cliff. The team has lost 11 of its last 15 games, including five straight after a 90-77 loss to a Chris Paul-less Los Angeles Clippers team on Thursday night, as crushing injuries just keep piling up.
After missing the first nine games of the season with a broken bone in his right hand, Kevin Love made it through just 18 games before reinjuring the paw, requiring surgery that's likely to keep him out for at least another two months. Brandon Roy's chronically haunted knees have kept him sidelined since early November, and it remains unclear when (or if) he'll return to the floor. Key wing piece Chase Budinger might not be back from left knee surgery until March; veteran Josh Howard was brought into help bridge the gap on the wing, tore his ACL and was promptly waived; rotation guard Malcolm Lee is out for the season after knee and hip surgeries.
Things got even worse on Thursday, as starting center Nikola Pekovic left in the third quarter after bruising his thigh and rookie shooting guard Alexey Shved exited in the fourth after badly rolling his left ankle. Neither returned, leaving the Wolves with an even shorter bench and even fewer scoring options; Minnesota managed just 14 points on 5 for 16 shooting in the final frame of Thursday's loss. And all the on-court carnage comes as the Wolves' sideline leader, head coach Rick Adelman, remains away from the team dealing with the awful off-court reality of the hospitalization of his wife, leaving lead assistant Terry Porter to try to adjust to the team's new injury-impacted reality on the fly.
One of the few healthy(ish) Wolves at the moment, ironically enough, is point guard Ricky Rubio, who made his first start of the season Thursday after coming off the bench for a month following his return from left knee surgery. And while people like me might think the rash of injuries is a pretty reasonable explanation for the team's struggles, the second-year pro from Spain doesn't want to hear that noise, according to Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press:Read More »from Ricky Rubio on Wolves’ losing streak: ‘I don’t think we’re having fun, and we’re going to change it’