This has not been the easiest year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. While it’s true that the team has suffered through plenty of losing seasons and subsequent lottery appearances since making it all the way to the NBA’s final four in 2004, the 2012-13 campaign was the first since the Kevin Garnett era that saw the Wolves actually enter a season with expectations. Playoff expectations, even, hopes that were scuttled when All-Star forward Kevin Love broke his hand. Twice.
Love has had plenty of company on the Minnesota bench. Andrei Kirilenko is suffering through a calf strain, Chase Budinger has been out for months, Brandon Roy has played just five games all year, and Ricky Rubio is still working his way back from an ACL tear that cost him the end of last season and first 35 games of this season. A 20-35 record is probably not what rookie guard Alexey Shved had in mind when he made his Minnesota debut this season, so you can understand the Russian guard feeling a little blue over a season gone wrong. Rubio, in the midst of Thursday night’s loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles, isn’t having any of it. Watch:
“Change this face. Be happy. Enjoy.” Perfect.
Shved had a rough game on Thursday, missing all but one of his eight shot attempts while scoring five points in 20 minutes. Rubio, though, continued his recent stretch of stellar play with a 13-point, 13-assist, and eight-rebound effort. As Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney detailed earlier this week, it’s been a fantastic turnaround for Rubio in the month of February, as he compiled 12.8-point, 9.8-assist, and 2.8-steal averages. Not knockout numbers, and his shooting still stinks (just under 38 percent on the month), but a massive improvement on his awful play from December and January.
Power of positive thinking or power of positive healing could be at work, here, and Rubio’s ascension at least gives Wolves fans something entertaining to watch as they play out yet another postseason-less string. There are 27 games left, Minnesota fans. Be happy. Enjoy.
(Tip o’ the top to Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones.)