LOS ANGELES – Believe it or not, it’s not always easy being Ricky Rubio.
At least it hasn’t been these last three games, even with all that hair, all that charm and all that game.
He has struggled to make a shot since missing a potential game-tying free throw late in Friday’s home loss to Toronto, and he did so again in Wednesday’s 111-95 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Just last week, Rubio made his first five three-point attempts and could barely miss a shot during a victory at Milwaukee. And now, he has gone 3-for-31 from the field – including all six three-pointers he has attempted – in his last three games. In Wednesday’s loss, he fought foul trouble and a slow shooting start against a playoff-bound Clippers team that on Sunday won its first Pacific Division title by completing a series sweep of the hometown rival Lakers for the first time since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981.
Rubio missed three first-half shots and finished 2-for-8 for six points on a night when the Wolves fell behind 8-0 early and then surrendered a 9-2 run to end the first half.
“He’s fighting through it,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said about Rubio’s last three shooting nights. “He has come a long way from the start of the year with the (knee) injury and everything else. He has a nice run and now he’s missing shots. There’s nothing you can do but make sure you’re taking good shots and keep attacking.
“They got aggressive and they got into him tonight and he got into foul trouble. I just don’t think he got any rhythm.”
The Wolves cut a 12-point halftime deficit down to three points by midway through the third quarter, then allowed the Clippers a 19-6 run that ended the third quarter and included four open three-point shots while the Wolves forced too many themselves and shot just 6-for-23 from three-point range all night.
Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each scored 19 points and Paul had 11 assists as well.
Nikola Pekovic led the Wolves with a 20-point, five-rebound night. Adelman said he thought Rubio’s shot looked “flat” in Tuesday’s 105-89 loss at Golden State. He went 0-for-10 in that game after going 1-for-13 in Saturday’s home victory over Detroit that gave Adelman his 1000th NBA career victory.
Add a miss at the end of Saturday’s game and three more to start Wednesday’s game and Rubio went 1-for-28 over two-plus games until he attacked the basket and scored on a driving left-handed layup to start Wednesday’s second half.
“Maybe his legs are a little tired,” Adelman said. “I don’t know, it’s just something you’ve got to go through. He’s got to take his shots if they’re going to play off him.”
Adelman said he didn’t see any evidence that Rubio’s shoulder – which he hurt Saturday against Detroit – contributed to Tuesday’s 0-fer night.
Neither did Rubio, who has made 15 of 17 free-throw attempts in three games since missing the second of two free throws with 1.8 seconds left against Toronto. But he admitted his legs are feeling the effect of a season in which he didn’t have a training camp because of March knee surgery that kept him out until mid-December.
“Well, yeah, I feel it in the legs and I have to work on it this summer to get stronger so I don’t get too tired at the end of the season,” he said.
Adelman also didn’t think Rubio’s shooting this last week has anything to do with the missed free throw that could have tied Friday’s game.
“It’s an 82-game schedule,” Adelman said. “He has fought himself all the way back to this point. He has had a rough couple games. But it’s not going to affect him. He always plays through things and he’ll continue to do that.”
Wolves forward Kevin Love underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a buildup of scar tissue in his left knee on Wednesday at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery. The team called it “successful.”
While there Wednesday, Love’s hand surgeon also removed a plate from Love’s surgically repaired right shooting hand that he broke twice this season. The plate was inserted when he two broken bones were repaired in a Jan. 16 operation.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor on Wednesday said again that he has not decided whether he will pick up the fifth-year option on president of basketball operations David Kahn’s contract.
Taylor also said he has no timetable for making that decision once the season ends Wednesday.
“I haven’t really addressed that issue yet,” he said.
The Wolves witnessed a celebration Tuesday night at Oracle Arena that reminded them the difference that one little season can make. Golden State clinched its second playoff berth in 19 seasons with a 105-89 victory over the Wolves that night and a sellout crowd stayed and chanted the `P’ word long after the visitors left the court.
When asked if it shows how far a team can come in one season, Wolves center Nikola Pekovic said, “Yeah, if you’re healthy probably, you can do it. If you’ve got all healthy players all year, I guess you can do something more about it.”
Could that be next year?
“I hope,” he said. “I hope.”
• Forward Dante Cunningham was a late scratch Wednesday night because of a sore right hamstring. Adelman countered by playing starter Derrick Williams the entire first three quarters before giving him a rest.