The player that determines whether the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to be good or not is Ricky Rubio. In the 124-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the Spainsh point guard had his best game of the season, and as a result everyone around him benefited.
Rubio is always an excellent passer, hardly looking for his own shot. However, in the games when he feels more confident to at least try to drive or provide some sort of threat from long distance; that is when the Timberwolves are at their best.
Rubio finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. When Rubio is so involved and gets to touch the ball so many times, the Timberwolves look like one of the more enjoyable teams in the leage; one we’d like to see for more than just 82 games this season. They shot 55.7% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the arc, as Kevin Love wasn’t forced to try and take the game on his back.
Instead, the ball went to everyone. Love finished with 21 points (7-of-19 from the field, only 6 rebounds); Kevin Martin scored 20 points on a very efficient 8-of-14 from the field, while Nikola Pekovic had himself a delightful evening against the lack of interior defense from the Pelicnas, as Anthony Davis was usually too busy helping others.
Pekovic had no problem handling Davis and Ryan Anderson, which caused a lot of foul trouble (four on Davis, 3 on Anderson), sending Pekovic to the line 11 times. The big man didn’t have any problem converting those opportunities, scoring 22 points with 8-of-11 from the line and 7-of-12 from the field, looking almost unstoppable every time he got the ball in the paint.
On nights like today when maybe they want to stop Kevin Love, we had another guy who is Pek. He is strong. If you don’t put a big body on him, he’s going to destroy him.
Pekovic – You’ve got to use your strengths, what your good at. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’m trying to use against athletic guys. I’m trying to use my strength. It worked tonight.
Are the Minnesota Timberwolves good enough to take this quite fun to watch offense and become a playoff team? There are on injuries getting in the way, the complete oppisite from last season. However, their defense has been one of the worst in the Western conference, and their bench play has been very inconsistent and disappointing.
Rubio and generally the point guards (Barea and Shved) remain the key to this team’s success. With Barea and Shved combining to score 27 points off the bench, there isn’t too much to worry about. However, Barea was never the most reliable of subs, while Shved is having a rough second-season in the NBA, not uncommon among young players.
Seeing Kevin Love putting up big numbers each night is nice, but it’s a lot more important for this team to help him, whether it’s Rubio playing as more than just a guy who passes the ball around, or Pekovic being an unstoppable force in the paint.