It’s been quite a while since the Minnesota Timberwolves enjoyed a big game from Ricky Rubio, still making his slow way back to his best shape after his ACL injury. He’s still not where he was at his peak last season, but that day isn’t too far away.
Rubio is still held back by the Timberwolves, and also had back spasms that kept him out of the previous four games. Since making his comeback, he’s been getting between 15-20 minutes a game, averaging 4.2 points while looking rather timid when he needs to take the ball to the basket.
Against the Atlanta Hawks, a team the Timberwolves haven’t beaten since 2006, Rubio didn’t score a single point but also didn’t take any shots. He simply did what he does best, which is create for others while starting to look better on defense, helped by some great defending from the guys around him, finishing with 8 assists and 4 steals.
Next up? The Oklahoma City Thunder, and a chance to see how Rubio handles himself in back-to-back games. Rubio just looks at it as another test on his tough road back from a long injury that made him miss the first six weeks of the season.
No Kevin Love, but the Timberwolves, like earlier this year, are hanging on. Maybe this will start another trade rumor, this time involving the necessity of Kevin Love to the team, but that’s a long shot. Truth is the regardless of who is playing, the Timberwolves have a solid team, without any big-time scorers and names but a disciplined defense with a very good head coach that’s getting the respect of their players. Sometimes you don’t need much more than that to look respectable on an NBA court.
The Atlanta Hawks, not looking at their best in the last few weeks, lost for the first time this season when both Josh Smith (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Al Horford (19 points, 11 rebounds) end up with double-doubles. Larry Drew didn’t think he’s been seeing enough effort from his players.
There’s some guys in there that are going to have to be held accountable. As we move forward, if this doesn’t change, there’s going to have to be some changes. That’s plain and simple. I’m not going to sit back and watch our guys come out and not be energized to play. That’s totally unacceptable.
Andre Kirilenko, who usually doesn’t shine offensively for the Timberwolves had one of his best offensive performances this season, finishing with 21 points, adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Nikola Pekovic was the star of the show, leading the scoring with 25 points and also grabbing 18 rebounds, while Derrick Williams, who some suggest is unsettled on this team, added 17 points off the bench.
Williams is a special player, but some say doesn’t have the kind of coach who believes in him in order to succeed and get the kind of minutes he deserves. For now, Williams doesn’t look jaded or turned off by being on the bench and playing just under 20 minutes a game. He’s pretty productive any time he steps out on the floor, and unless Adelman really has something against him, he should probably be getting more minutes very soon.