Charlotte's Kemba Walker of Team Shaq shot past Indiana's Paul George.

Mike Ehrmann, Associated Press


Rubio dishes, dazzles but team Shaq loses

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • February 25, 2012 - 7:19 AM

ORLANDO - Even in a superfluous all-star game, Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio regretted defeat Friday night, although he did find consolation in one detail from his Team Shaq's 146-133 loss to Team Chuck in All-Star weekend's Rising Stars Challenge.

"At least one Timberwolves player win," he said.

Rookie teammate Derrick Williams went home the winner to prepare for Saturday night's slam-dunk contest after Cleveland rookie Kyrie Irving -- Rubio's formidable competition for Rookie of the Year -- made 12 of 13 shots, including all eight three-pointers he attempted, and scored 34 points in a performance that won game MVP.

Meanwhile, Rubio -- the only player coach Steve Kerr requested that General Manager Shaquille O'Neal draft a week ago -- entertained most of the night with his unusual array of no-look and behind-the-back passes and that around-the-waist dribble drive he likes so much.

He also dribbled the ball on a full run through Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins' legs and then lobbed a pass to Clippers dunk machine Blake Griffin.

"I just apologized," Rubio said afterward, "but it is what it is: In a game like that, you can do things like that."

Smart rookie: Apologize to the big, bruising fellow you just embarrassed on a national stage and play two more times this season.

"I didn't know that was coming," Williams said when asked if he had warned Cousins. "I forgot Ricky does all that stuff. Every time he plays, he makes an amazing play and I want to watch him just to see what he does next."

Rubio started alongside New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin and played more than 21 minutes, had 12 points, seven assists, three rebounds, a steal and made back-to-back three pointers in the second half. Williams started for the team Charles Barkley drafted and he had two points and three rebounds in 18-plus minutes.

Charles who?

Williams and Rubio both got to spend a little time Friday with their respective general managers."He's kind of quiet," Williams said of Barkley.

Uh, how's that?

"Well, he's not quiet in general, but he was a little quiet today," Williams said.

Last week, Rubio playfully questioned O'Neal's decision to draft five point guards for Team Shaq.

"I talked to him, but not about that," Rubio said. "I talked to him and it was great because I always watched him play. I didn't get to play against him, but now I know him."

A new man

Wolves forward Kevin Love looked so much better Friday afternoon than he did when he sat at his locker stall utterly exhausted after Wednesday's last-second victory over Utah. He will compete in Saturday's three-point contest and play in his second consecutive All-Star Game on Sunday night. Love said he went to bed at 8 p.m. in Orlando Thursday and felt so good when he awoke, he went and worked out first thing Friday morning.

"I finally was able to get some rest and now I feel refreshed," he said. "I'm still going to go as hard as I can [in Sunday's game]. I want to put on a good showing."

Five a side

Team Shaq played with the five point guards -- and started three of them -- that O'Neal drafted alternately with Barkley when the two split the Rising Stars players into teams on TNT last week.

When asked if Timberwolves boss David Kahn had selected his team, Kerr laughed and said, "You said it, I didn't."


• When asked if he's making some late preparations for Saturday's slam-dunk contest, Williams said, "No, I'm good. I'm ready." Expect Rubio to assist him in some capacity and expect Williams to wear a special pair of shoes that glow or change colors when the light from camera flashbulbs hit them.

• Wouldn't it be great if Williams' big surprise dunk Saturday came by leaping over a caged lion? That's how he described himself in a tweet one night not that long ago after he had once again seen limited playing time in a game.

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