Without Kevin Love and a long list of injured players, the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t have much of a chance of making the postseason, already falling six games behind the last playoffs spot in the West. Still, there are some good news: Ricky Rubio is playing like his old self again.
Maybe it was facing a rookie point guard like Damian Lillard that brought the best out of Rubio, but after a lukewarm first month of making his comeback from an injury that kept him off the basketball courts since last season, the Spanish hope of the Timberwolves’ organization is starting to play at the level they expect him to. It wasn’t enough for a win against the Blazers, but it was no doubt Rubio’s best game of the season.
How good? He scored a season high 15 points, looking aggressive when driving to the basket. He made 4-9 from the field, which is exceptional for him (32.1% this season so far), but also got to the line more than in any other game this season, making 7 of his 8 shots. He had 14 assists, another season high for him, making it his first double double of 2013, as the Timberwolves dropped the game 98-100, despite outscoring Portland 40-23 in the final quarter.
The last few games, which include their only win since January 19, have been very promising from Rubio. After most nights this season have been him dishing out six assists while scoring 4 or 5 points, he looks finally a lot more comfortable initiating contact, not looking timid when driving to the basket. He scored 14 points on January 26 in a one point loss to the Bobcats (oh, the shame), followed by three straight games of 9 points, still more than he scored in any game before that, and now 15 points against the Blazers.
Another encouraging sign is Rubio’s minutes, playing 33, more than he had all season in a single game, and his +/- of +9 was the best on the team. He’s been pretty vocal in recent weeks, on Timberwolves matters and other things (Pau Gasol for example), meaning he might be feeling more confident with his place in the team, besides just starting to show it on the basketball court.
The only thing we have to do is bring the energy. Today it was awful in the first quarter. Nobody had any. You get too far down and it’s too hard to come back. Everything’s got to be perfect to come back and win that game.