Postgame: Anybody else?: Love, Rubio aren't enough in loss

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • January 15, 2012 - 2:26 AM

So now that Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are a couple, is anybody else going to step forth:

Those two took the Wolves to an 18-point, third-quarter lead Saturday in Atlanta, but they alone weren't enough -- particularly on the game's final shot -- to keep a Hawks team missing Al Horford and Tracy McGrady from ripping off a 24-2 run that ended the third quarter and began the fourth and ripping off a victory the Wolves seemed to suggest afterward would have been theirs if the officiating didn't conspire against them.

They still had the chance to win after the Hawks took that two-point lead on Ivan Johnson's two free throws with 4.1 seconds left, but Love and Rubio got pushed too far out on the left side of the floor playing a two-man game after a timeout and had to settle for Love's long, forced shot just before the final buzzer never had a chance.

Here's the game story from Saturday night that details how the Hawks changed the game by slapping a zone on the Wolves out of desperation and the Wolves complied by chucking outside shot after outside shot up that missed until the Hawks were right back in the game.

Now you know Love wants to prove he can be that guy to take the final shot, but Rubio showed tonight that he's the guy who you want to give the ball in any situation.

He made another hostile crowd ooh and aah -- and even caused a couple NBA team advance scouts sitting courtside to chuckle in delight -- with his alley oop and behind-the-back passes, sharp shooting (yes, it's true, Wolves fans) and his defense, which seems to be getting better and better by the game.

Tonight, playing 35 more minutes after Friday's 44-minute game, he simply put together an 18-point, 12-assist, 4-rebound, 5-steal night

For those keeping score at home, that's 3.75 steals a game in his last four games.

That ain't bad.

Now who else (perhaps beyond Luke Ridnour) is going to start playing?

Rick Adelman turned to two unlikely possibilities -- Wayne Ellington and little-used Nikola Pekovic -- tonight after it became clear he decided Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph, Wes Johnson and rookie Derrick Williams weren't doing the job.

In fact, Williams played just eight minutes -- and not a second in the second half -- just a week after Adelman said he needed to get him in the game more.

Meanwhile, Ellington played nearly 31 minutes in relief of Rubio and Luke Ridnour after both again started in the backcourt.

He made 6 of 9 shots -- 1 of 4 threes -- and tried to break the Hawks' fourth-quarter momentum with such clutch shooting he hasn't shown much yet this season.

Pekovic saw his most meaningful action, playing 17 minutes and going for more than a seven minute stretch in the fourth quarter when Adelman turned to his physical presence perhaps in an attempt to counter Hawks rookie Ivan Johnson, the former D Leaguer who powered his way through the Wolves at will at times tonight.

(He also provided his team's final four points that assured victory).

Yes, it sure will help when J.J. Barea, Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Malcolm Lee and perhaps even Brad Miller come back healthy, but the early results here in this still young season aren't good with the opportunity that guys like Johnson, Milicic and Randolph are getting.

I left Williams out of there because the guy's got to get more than eight minutes, no matter the game situation, doesn't he?

Adelman has said all along he's going to play who's going to give him the best chance to win, but I'll still take my chances putting Williams out there at least 30 minutes a game, including fourth-quarter time, and let him grow.

It's early yet -- just 12 games in -- but already you can see that Love, Rubio and Williams are this team's core, even if Williams and Love basically play the same position.

Let 'em play together, I say, even if Williams maybe has to play a good bit at a small-forward position he might not yet be quite ready for.

What do you say?

One other thing: Here's the notebook from Saturday night with an explanation from Wolves executive Ted Johnson about why you couldn't see Rubio's first two NBA starts on local television this weekend.

That's all I got from Atlanta after a long, horrendous night with wireless problems at Philips Arena.

The Wolves flew home after tonight's game, will take Sunday off and play Monday at home against Sacramento, which scored 60 points tonight in Dallas and got absolutely crunched by the Mavs.

I'll probably blog with you again after shootaround on Monday.




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