It might have been Kevin Love that scored the game winning shot for the Minnesota Timberwolves as they beat the Dallas Mavericks 123-122 in overtime, but Ricky Rubio having his best game of the season, which included more than just assists and showtime was undoubtedly the big story to take out of an entertaining encounter.
Kevin Love finished with 35 points and 8 rebounds, hitting the game winning shot with 17.1 seconds left despite three players trying to stop him. The Mavs went to Dirk Nowitzki on the fade away post up shot which didn’t fall, as the Timberwolves improved to 34-32, which didn’t really get them any closer to making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
So Love had his usual big numbers, making everyone talk that MVP jargon again. But it won’t happen, and him having huge scoring nights against a terrible defense like the Mavs had isn’t that surprising. But Rubio? Yes, his assists, flashy or not, are something we’re accustomed to. He had 15, a lot of them by simply making the smart choice and dumping the ball to a wide open Love.
But the triple double? Rubio had 10 rebounds, 4 steals and most shockingly 22 points while shooting 8-of-12 from the field. He didn’t seemed hesitant with his shot, and took what was given to him on the fast breaks and drives inside. He is a 37.6% shooter during the season from the field, so seeing him shoot so much and look confident about it is quite a rarity. It might be too quick to assume that this was the game that brought it all together for the talented point guard once and for all, but it does show that under certain conditions, he can be expected to have big scoring nights.
With the game tied at 113-113, Robbie Hummel missed a corner three that would have won the game for the Timberwolves. The Mavs, with less than two seconds in the game, failed to score as Devin Harris tried to hit a shot from the halfcourt line. Rick Carlisle was begging for a timeout in that short time, but no official was close to him or even looking in his direction, something Carlisle was quite angry about after the buzzer sounded and overtime began.
This was also something of a breakout game for rookie Gorgui Dieng, starting in the lineup and scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 from the field to go with 11 rebounds. Sure, he is still a very raw player without too many moves near the basket, but maybe he can be a decent pick for the Timberwolves who keep making mistakes in recent drafts.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points to lead the Mavs and Monta Ellis added 22. The Mavs shot 49.5% from the field although they slightly struggled with the three-ball, including Nowitzki going o-for-7 from deep. However, their biggest problem was the defense, constantly split by pick & rolls and quite simple movement from Love and Rubio, something that if the Mavs make the playoffs is going to make actually winning a first round series close to impossible considering they’re going to play one of the higher seeds.