With the game on the line, Wolves lacking a go-to guy

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2013 - 7:21 AM

Ricky Rubio and Dante Cunningham both had their chances in the final seconds of Monday's loss.


Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio (9) drives to the basket against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at the Target Center on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Back for four games after three weeks away, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman mostly has settled on lineup combinations and rotation tinkering.

But the final seconds of Monday's two-point loss to Portland demonstrated once again that he and his team still search for just where the ball should go when the game's in doubt, at least until Kevin Love returns from his twice-broken hand.

Trailing by 19 points after three quarters and by 13 with four minutes left, the Wolves had two opportunities in the final seven seconds to tie Monday's game, and failed both times.

"This is the problem area that we knew we were going to have," Adelman said. "The game's on the line. What are you going to do?"

Love isn't the classic kind of superstar -- if you consider him one at all -- who can create his own shot and win games all by himself. Not yet anyway, although Adelman foresees him growing into such a role when he's healthy again.

With Love sidelined until well into March, Adelman deems placing the ball in point guard Ricky Rubio's hands as his next best option. He did so in Monday's fourth quarter, when Rubio ran one pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop play after another.

By game's end, Rubio had tied a franchise record he already shared for most assists in a quarter with 10 and Dante Cunningham had scored 17 of his 23 points in those 12 minutes.

By game's end, though, each player missed a shot that could have forced overtime.

Each time Adelman allowed Rubio to create for others, as he had all quarter, because the Wolves have no one who can create his own shot.

"Well, of course, we are missing Kevin Love in that part," Rubio said. "He is a leader, and he's a guy who takes those shots. But he's not here. We have to step up, and I think we run a good play. We didn't make it."

Rubio also pointed out that it'd help if the Wolves didn't fall behind by 11 points by halftime and by 19 entering that fourth quarter.

"If we do it 48 minutes, I don't think we need the last bucket to win," Rubio said.

Rubio had the ball in his hands and the chance to tie the score with fewer than 10 seconds remaining. He dribbled all around underneath the basket looking for an open teammate or an open shot before forcing up a short jumper with 7.9 seconds left that Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge partially blocked.

Afterward, Adelman said Rubio needed to bring the ball -- and by doing so, Aldridge -- out away from the basket instead of remaining so close underneath it.

"He has the advantage when he has it out on the floor, not when he's three feet from the basket, shooting over a 7-footer," Adelman said. "He knew that."

Rubio said Tuesday he planned to study that play with coaches.

"I was trying to find someone, I couldn't find him," Rubio said. "It was a bad decision for me. I take the blame on me and learn from that, but if you don't take the shots -- you have to take them. I'm going to look at the play and try to learn from that."

The Wolves had one more chance after that, but Cunningham's 18-foot shot at the buzzer missed badly after he followed Saturday's perfect 9-for-9 game by making 11 of his first 16 shots Monday.

Cunningham assumed such an important role in each game not because he has been designated the team's go-to guy, but because the opposing defense left him open time and again.

"Dante made a lot of shots, but when we had Kevin out there, spacing the floor, now they've got real decisions to make then," Adelman said. "Because now you can make the three, now you can do a lot of things. ... We have to find a way. Our team can't exist on one or two guys having big nights. It's got to be four and five guys, stepping up, giving us something different."

  • related content

  • Kirilenko receives European Player of the Year award

    Tuesday February 5, 2013

    Wolves forward did not practice today, questionable for Wednesday's Spurs game because of strained quad

  • Wolves-San Antonio preview

    Tuesday February 5, 2013

    Preview: This six-game Wolves' homestand continues with a visit by a San Antonio team that has won 10 consecutive games and owns the NBA's best record at 38-11. ... The...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72


question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters