The Minnesota Timberwolves are out of the playoff hunt, a full 10 games behind the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers with 20 to play, and unsure if All-Star forward Kevin Love is even ready to resume team workouts, much less returning to actual games. It’s been a disappointing season for Minnesota, a team that entered 2012-13 with playoff hopes, only to watch as injuries decimated just about every angle of its roster.
That doesn’t mean the team, despite its ridiculously low three-point shooting and lack of an All-Star, isn’t still as entertaining as NBA squads come. That’s in large part due to second-year guard Ricky Rubio, who dropped what may be a “first of its kind” NBA moment on Tuesday night:
Comment section participants can correct me and my failing memory, but I don’t recall ever seeing a behind the back dribble followed by yet another behind the back dribble on an NBA stage. That’s some impressive, and fearless, stuff.
Most importantly, the Wolves pulled out the win – dominating an injury-depleted San Antonio Spurs squad by a 107-83 score. It’s true that the Spurs were working without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard and on the second night of a back to back, but that doesn’t help argue away Minnesota’s all-around play. Typified by Rubio, who notched the first triple-double of his career.
The landmark wasn’t of the cheap variety, either. No 10-12-13 triple-double marks here, as Rubio went off for 21 points on 9-17 shooting, with 13 rebounds and 12 assists. And out of nowhere, the Timberwolves came through with a masterful shooting exhibition from long range. Outside of Rubio’s stank 1-5 mark, the Timberwolves shot 11-15 from behind the arc, an odd display considering that they entered the contest shooting less than 29 percent from behind the three-point line – by far the worst percentage in the NBA.
Injuries contributed mightily to that mark. After the game, Rubio credited injuries with his personal achievement. From the Pioneer-Press:
"With Kevin (Love) and Pek (Nikola Pekovic) out, there's a lot of rebounds for us," Rubio said. "To get the first one (triple-double) is good to have, especially against the team with the best record in the NBA."
Ah, yes, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic – two of the better big men in the NBA. And then you go down the list of Wolves helpers from Tuesday – J.J. Barea hitting five three-pointers, Alexey Shved getting’ off the schneid with three three-pointers, Chris Johnson registering five blocks in the second quarter alone – and you see the makings of what could be a fantastic rotation. All led by Rubio’s derring-do.
We’ll have to wait until the fall to see it at full strength, which is a shame, but for now League Pass denizens will still have their fun with these Timberwolves. I’m going to see them in person tonight when they pair up with Indiana. Who’s with me?
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