Reusse: Wolves can follow Rubio out of the abyss

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 6, 2013 - 11:56 PM

Ricky Rubio is just the alpha Wolf to lead the Wolves out of their eight-year playoff drought.

hide

Ricky Rubio got past Toronto’s Kyle Lowry on Friday night. Rubio had 13 points and 12 assists in the 95-93 loss.

Photo: JIM MONE • Associated Press ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Ricky Rubio was mugged on a drive and there was no call. Toronto came away with the basketball, and Rubio rallied to steal it back. He was sitting on the floor, being clawed at, and you expected a frantic request for a timeout.

That’s not what the Target Center crowd saw Friday night. Rather than panic, Rubio noticed the flash of a teammate, Andrei Kirilenko, breaking down the middle of the court. He pushed a pass in Kirilenko’s direction, Andrei went for a layup and was fouled, resulting in a three-point play.

A couple of minutes later, with 57 seconds left in the first quarter, Rubio was called for his second foul and went to the bench. Just like that, the Timberwolves’ offense went from flowing to stumbling.

Eventually, the Raptors took advantage of the matchup favoring DeMar DeRozan and the offensive talent of Rudy Gay to hold a 94-92 lead in the closing seconds. The Wolves made a defensive stand, the ball came to Rubio and he sped down the right side, headed for the basket.

Rubio was fouled in the act of shooting, made the first free throw, and had the tying attempt rattle out. Another Wolves’ foul gave Toronto a final point and a 95-93 victory.

The Wolves came back Saturday night and gave coach Rick Adelman his 1,000th regular-season victory by beating Detroit 107-101. Rubio had a horrible night shooting, and yet the Wolves were a plus-17 when he was on the court, demonstrating that he is the player this team can rally around and escape from the abyss.

That abyss includes eight consecutive losing seasons — from the fall of 2005 to this spring. In Minnesota’s major league era that started in 1961, that will equal the fledgling Timberwolves of 1989 into 1997, and the Twins from 1993 through 2000 for the longest stretch of losing seasons.

Rubio blew out his left knee March 9, 2012 and the Timberwolves collapsed. He returned on Dec. 15 as a shadow of himself and to a shadow of a team ravaged by injuries and frequent illness.

He wasn’t in a situation to start making demands on his teammates, not as he was occupied trying to regain those lost two steps on his repaired left knee.

The Wolves were an abysmal 6-18 from the start of February into the middle of March. One good thing happened during this futility: Rubio’s movement and his game returned.

For all the accolades that came Adrian Peterson’s way for his recovery from knee surgery, he was averaging a modest 83 yards through six games last season. It was Oct. 21 when he started the romp past 2,000 yards and to the NFL’s MVP award — 10½ months from surgery to full throttle.

Rubio’s surgery took place last March 21. He was back playing big minutes and playing fast in early February — 10½ months after surgery.

The difference is Peterson was back carrying a healthy team to the playoffs, and Rubio was playing in the middle of an infirmary.

Once the left knee could sustain his game, it was the losing that started to wear on Rubio. He was a veteran pro at 22 and had not experienced full-blown losing, not in Spain and not in the 41 games (21-20) leading to his knee injury as an NBA rookie.

By several accounts, Rubio became more forceful in the locker room, challenging teammates not to accept what had become another Wolves’ trademark, late-season collapse.

Think of the emotional message in “The Big Lebowski”: “This aggression will not stand!’’

In Rubio’s case it was: “This lack of aggression will not stand!’’

The Timberwolves are now 6-5 since March 21, which is also the one-year anniversary of Rubio’s surgery. Six-and-5 isn’t worthy of a parade; it’s merely an improvement on the annual death march.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland 1 Top 10th Inning
Kansas City 1
Detroit 8 Bottom 9th Inning
Chicago WSox 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado 1 Top 9th Inning
Arizona 0
Chicago Cubs 1 Bottom 7th Inning
St. Louis 4
Los Angeles 1 Bottom 6th Inning
San Diego 1
Milwaukee 0 Top 5th Inning
San Francisco 3
Oakland 0 Bottom 4th Inning
LA Angels 0
Washington 2 Top 5th Inning
Seattle 0
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 10 4th Qtr 5:00
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 4th Qtr 2:34
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 4th Qtr 11:45
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 4th Qtr 9:20
Miss State 42
Texas-El Paso 24 4th Qtr 14:07
New Mexico 21
North Texas 0 3rd Qtr 0:23
Texas 28
(1) Florida State 20 3rd Qtr 8:46
Oklahoma State 17
(14) Wisconsin 17 2nd Qtr 7:36
(13) LSU 7
Idaho 0 Delayed 14:50
Florida 0
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 2nd Half 5:00
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close