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Tag:Ricky Rubio
Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:16 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 1:46 am
 

Report Card 1.10.12: Washington Wizards get a W



By Matt Moore

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments. 

Washington Wizards


A win! A real win! The Nets (0-18 start) is safe! Crack the champagne! Or Shasta! Or something. The Wizards were desperate, the Raptors were lethargic, the Wizards' offense wasn't gangbusters but their defense was stout. The Raptors cut the lead to 8 at one point, and then the Wizards just hit them in the mouth. Trevor Booker was tough inside, Chris Singleton was productive, John Wall had an efficient game passing (and still can't shoot). It wasn't a great game. But a win to get them off the snide, their first of the season? That's an A.


Chicago Bulls/Minnesota Timberwolves

Since we grade on a curve, the Bulls weren't flawless on defense, and the Wolves game them a good scare. But they executed and executed and answered everything the Wolves tried to do in order to steal momentum. Rose came back from an ankle injury and still closed out the game in style, including a dagger right in the eye of Ricky Rubio to put the fire out.

But the Wolves were right there. And where so many teams would wilt and die under the Bulls' pressure, the Wolves stayed in there. What's more, they controlled the turnover battle and produced on offense. Defense was their problem (*cough* Kevin Love *cough*) but they still got some big performances from their stars (*cough* Kevin Love *cough*).

Portland Trail Blazers

The Clippers hung in this one, and that says something about where both teams are at. But the Blazers got what they needed, particularly from Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton. Felton took over with a whirling dervish of layups and stripped Blake Griffin down the stretch. The Blazers continue to pressure teams into mistakes. It wasn't a flawless performance by any means, but it is a revenge get from the game they let slip in Staples. Blazers keep rolling. 

Houston Rockets


They beat the Bobcats while shooting 39 percent from the field, 35 percent from the arc, and 75 percent from the line. They turned it over 22 times and the Bobcats were missing two starters. So no, I am not impressed. One thing to watch, though. Jordan Hill has become a legitimate center in this league. After being cast off by the Knicks, he's one of the league leaders in rebound percentage and is playing efficiently at both ends. A good gamble that paid off for Houston. 




Memphis Grizzlies down the stretch


The Grizzlies were in this. In all honesty, they should get a B for their work against an exceptional OKC team. But down the stretch, in a tight game, the continuously made stupid fouls against Russell Westbrook who they have never been able to contain when he's in gear. Rudy Gay repeatedly took threes when they needed him creating inside, then turned the ball over in one-possession game. The Grizzlies' final meaningful possession was a Westbrook block of a Conley layup. Someone has to step up and make plays for this team if they're ever going to get out of their hole.

Toronto Raptors


Lost to the Wizards. Au-to-mat-ic.





LeBron James and the Heat in the clutch



Oh, here's a new one! 

The Heat did what they are most known for, completely self-destructing in the fourth quarter. LeBron James did not attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter. In overtime he missed several key shots and was blocked. He took a poor shot to go for the tie instead of working inside and all that post work we talked about? Gone. 

The Heat have been incredible this season, and that's not media fawning, that's just how good their play has been. But Tuesday night was a reminder that that hideous version of themselves that cost their team a championship still exists. They freeze, they lock up, and they let the whole world rain down on their heads. They utterly failed against a team they had down 17 Tuesday night. 


Gold Stars: Kobe Bryant (48 points on 18/31 shooting); Gerald Wallace (20-4-4 and so many huge plays there are too many to count plus a dagger three); David Lee, Dorrell Wright, Raymond Felton, Al Jefferson (30 and 12), Russell Westbrook
Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Why isn't Ricky Rubio starting?

Posted by Royce Young



So Ricky Rubio is living up the the hype he carried around with him before the draft in 2009. He's a passing savant, a true genius with the ball in his hands. He sees the floor like he uses a superpower to pick out a cutting teammate. He puts passes right on the money, finds space and even has shown a little more offense than expected.

And yet, he still finds himself behind Luke Ridnour on the depth chart. Understandable. We're only nine games into the season and there was no telling that Rubio would be this NBA ready. You didn't want to just throw him to the wolves (get it? you get it) and let him learn on the fly. Minnesota wanted to develop him, make sure the game wasn't too fast for him and bring him along slowly. No need to rush.

But, then again, Rubio has been, well, awesome. And while yes, it's just nine games, those nine games haven proven that a) Ricky Rubio is better than Luke Ridnour and b) Rubio is obviously the point guard of the future for the team. So considering those two factors and also that the Wolves aren't risking a playoff spot by handing the keys entirely to Rubio, it's time to start asking: Why is he not starting?

Probably because his defense is still bad, right? I mean, that's what pretty much everyone wanted to fall back on while critiquing the young Spaniard. Sure he's flashy, but NBA point guards will tear him apart.

So, have they? Through the Wolves nine games, Rubio has taken on opposing point guards like Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving and John Wall and has a matchup with MVP Derrick Rose Tuesday night. A pretty good batch of talent to measure himself against. Granted, Luke Ridnour is technically the starter and Rubio gets quite a bit of second quarter minutes when a second unit is on the floor, but note that Rubio has played virtually every entire fourth quarter, which means he has seen probably more time on the opposite starting point than Ridnour.

How'd he do? Westbrook scored 28 on 10-21 shooting but turned it over seven times. Jennings went for 24 and seven assists. Parker had just 11 points on 3-11 shooting. Irving scored 14 on 12 shots and had seven turns. And Wall was just 3-10 from the floor with four turnovers.

The lesson: Rubio isn't getting dominated by any stretch. He's holding his own, and in some cases, playing pretty good defense. For instance, in Minnesota's opener against the Thunder, Rubio did a great job staying in front of an attacking Westbrook, taking a critical charge late in the fourth quarter. He moved his feet, kept position and didn't reach. He leads the Wolves in steals with 1.3 a game (15 in the league among point guards) and has shown excellent passing lane instincts. You can be a great player without playing great defense. Steve Nash has always been a pretty mild defender, but does a serviceable enough job to not make it a glaring issue. And that's what Rubio's doing. He's not going to be a stopper by any means, but he's not getting abused.

And when you can make plays on the other end, it often doesn't matter either way. Rubio changes the way the Wolves play. Their best lineup in terms of plus-minus includes him, and it's not close.

Now, Rick Adelman knows basketball and his team a whole lot better than I do. He knows what he's doing. But you can be sure he's trying to figure out when the right time to make the transition is. Maybe it's that David Kahn wants to build up Ridnour's trade value and then deal the veteran to make a natural hole for Rubio. Maybe the idea is since Derrick Williams can't start because Michael Beasley (or Wayne Ellington) is in front of him that it's better to keep Rubio and Williams playing together in the second unit because that's the future of the Wolves. Maybe it's just because Adelman doesn't see Rubio as ready.

But if that last one was the case, Rubio wouldn't have played every single minute of every single fourth quarter so far this season. He hasn't come out those last 12 minutes yet. Adelman clearly trusts him with crunch-time and clearly thinks he can handle those important minutes. Adelman likes to use Ridnour and Rubio together a lot in the fourth, but the point is, Rubio is getting starter minutes for the most part, especially in terms of the quality of the minutes. So he's getting the necessary experience.

It's clear though that the future of the Wolves rests in Rubio's hands as their starting point guard. He wasn't drafted and didn't finally come over from Spain to back up Luke Ridnour. It's about timing. It might happen after the All-Star break or trade deadline or it might not happen until next season.

Point is, Rubio's ready for it. Why delay it? He's proven he can handle the responsibility of driving the Wolves car, he can defend well enough and is the future. It's not a question of if he'll ever start, it's just a matter of when, and how soon.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:58 pm
 

Report Card: Nash doing his Nash thing

Posted by Royce Young


Ricky Rubio

OK, so it was against the Wizards. But they have John Wall, remember? And Ricky Rubio torched them. Off the bench for the Wolves, Rubio piled up 13 points, 14 assists and six rebounds while being a +29. It's not so much that he's dazzling and making us say "Oooh" every time he passes it anymore. He's just a dang good point guard and he makes the Wolves a much better team.

Steve Nash

Nash dished out 17 assists, but 10 came in the first quarter. While people like me fawn over Rubio, you can't forget that Nash is still the best setup man in basketball. Chris Paul is a better point guard, but nobody puts a pass right on the money for a good shot quite like Nash. The Suns have been pretty up and down, but have won two straight games to get back 4-4. And when Nash has it going, that's a team that beat a whole lot of teams.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are the first team this season to sweep their back-to-back-to-back with an easy rout of the Spurs. Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double (21-10-7) and OKC's bench piled up 53 points. But as coach Scott Brooks said after the game, he wanted to keep it in perspective. The Spurs, who are old, were playing without Manu Ginobili and in their fourth in five nights which meant a lot of their veterans didn't play. Impressive win, but against a wounded opponent.

Raymond Felton

Since calling out Russell Westbrook, Felton has been pretty average. He's gone 7-30 from the field in his last three games, including 1-9 Sunday against the Cavs that featured five turnovers. Felton's Blazers are 2-1 in that time, so that's no so bad and he's dished out 19 assists, but he isn't exactly looking quite as hot as he did after beating Westbrook.

Marc Gasol

Matching up against his brother Pau and Andrew Bynum, Mark wasn't good. He didn't make a shot in nine tries and scored only two points in 44 minutes. He grabbed 11 rebounds, had four steals and three blocks, but without Zach Randolph, Memphis isn't going to beat many teams getting nothing offensively from Gasol in 44 minutes.

Washington Wizards

I think we might just need to remake the "F" for each night into a little Wizard logo. Because this is becoming a nightly thing. It's almost a surprise if Washington is competitive. I don't think they've necessarily quit on Flip Saunders, but something isn't working for them. They're terrible, John Wall isn't making a move forward and the other players around him aren't helping much. The Wolves are a decent team but getting blasted by 21 at home while only scoring 73 points. Come on.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:13 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:56 pm
 

Report: Kevin Love has not been offered extension

By Matt Moore

Take this one with a grain of salt, but the New York Post's Peter Vescey is reporting that Kevin Love has not received an extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and should he not receive one in the next 12 days, prior to January 15th, the All-Star rebound machine will not be signing one, and instead be heavily examining signing his qualifying offer this summer to make him a free agent in 2013. 

The Timberwolves and Love have always had a contentious relationship. General Manager David Kahn was very lukewarm on the UCLA forward even when he flashed considerable abilities at both ends of the floor his rookie season. He struggled to get minutes under Kurt Rambis before finally bucking off the chains when he simply became too good to keep down. But Kahn has always maintained that Love is a part of the Timberwolves' future and he's not going anywhere. Why are we skeptical of this?

Because it's incomprehensible.

The Timberwolves-are-a-joke meme is almost dead. Drafting Ricky Rubio looks genius, regardless of the Jonny Flynn pick. He's honestly miles ahead of the pack for rookie of the year after the first week and he's not even starting. Derrick Williams looks good. Darko Milicic is serviceable. This team has been assembled as decently as it can be, considering the near-accidental way it has. Rick Adelman was the best hire they could have made and it's already paid off. Love is an All-Star. He's always said he just wants to win. Rookies never get away from their teams on the first contract if they have any value. The guaranteed money and extra year is just too big. 

And yet.

So we'll wait, and see just how insane this Timberwolves group is. But if history, common sense, and recent trends are any factor, even if you believe the Timberwolves are still a joke, not even they could make this punchline into reality.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:58 am
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Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:38 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 12:38 pm
 

Video: Rubio goes through Dirk's legs for assist

Posted by Royce Young

The passing ability Ricky Rubio has isn't something you can really develop. It's instinctual. It's like a sixth sense. It's just a... well, a gift.

His vision is just plain ridiculous. It's almost like how Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes sees the fight he's about to be in and breaks it down before the fight happens. That's what Rubio does before he passes it. Dribble left, initiate look-away, place ball in right hand, locate defender's hands, bounce ball at 45 degree angle, watch teammate make 3-pointer.

He took over the fourth quarter against the Mavericks last night, leading the Wolves to their first win of the season with 14 points and seven assists. But none prettier of more creative than Rubio's dime to Anthony Tolliver. Just watch, and watch closely:


Posted on: December 31, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 2:03 pm
 

Wolves G Lee out 6 weeks after knee surgery

Posted by Ben Gollivermalcolm-lee

One Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard -- Ricky Rubio -- has gone about lighting up the league. Another is headed for a month and a half of street clothes and rehabilitation.

StarTribune.com reportsthat Timberwolves rookie guard Malcolm Lee had surgery on his left knee and could be sidelined for six weeks.
Wolves rookie guard Malcolm Lee underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus ligament in his left knee Friday and could miss as much as six weeks. His knee grew sore as training camp progressed. He has surgery to repair the meniscus on the same knee after the college season last March, but this surgery is not related to that one, the team said.

"It's unfortunate for him, but better to get it fixed than wait," coach Rick Adelman said. "He had played very well. We were very pleased with him. We would not have hesitated to play him."

Lee, 21, is a favorite of Timberwolves management and was a target during the 2011 NBA Draft. Minnesota acquired Lee, a UCLA product, in a draft day trade with the Chicago Bulls, who selected him in the second round with the No. 43 pick overall.

With guard Martell Webster out indefinitely because of a recurring back injury, there are some minutes available for Lee, who provides a bigger backcourt option than Rubio or free agent acquisition J.J. Barea. Starting point guard (for now) Luke Ridnour, Rubio, forward Wesley Johnson and guard Wayne Ellington will complete the backcourt rotation until Lee's return.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 2:02 am
 

Report Card 12.26.11: Mavs crushed again



By Matt Moore


The first full night of games and it was a doozy. Rookie debuts, buzzer-beaters, and some vomit. The NBA is back in all its glory. Here are your grades for Monday, December 26th, 2011.

A: Denver Nuggets: Yeah, it was against the same team the Heat ran out of the building Sunday, this time on the second night of a back to back. But the Mavericks are still the defending champs and the Nuggets ran them out of their own building. It wasn't just the offense, either, though they were en fuego (49 percent from the field, 56 percent effective field goal percentage). Denver was also dialed in defensively. The best wins are those in which your offense allows you to set your defense to attack, which creates opportunities for your offense and it becomes a vicious cycle for your opponent. The Nuggets were like a race car wheel roaring down the track. They forced 19 turnovers, creating 20 percent more opportunities for themselves, and they took full advantage. Ty Lawson was a speed demon and when the Mavs did get in front, he smoked them from the perimeter (3-6 from the arc, 27 points). Al Harrington not only provided a huge offensive lift off the bench, he was engaged defensively. At one point he created a steal which bounced to Danilo Gallinari, who ran the floor then stopped and shoveled it back to a sprinting Harrington for the dunk. The Nuggets played so wel they could mess around on fast breaks. Dominant performance in their first season opener since 2003 without Carmelo Anthony.

B: San Antono Spurs: A little bit of revenge after the Grizzlies eliminated them from the playoffs last spring. The Spurs, six months removed from a season where they were an offensive juggernaut but couldn't stop anyone, especially down low, got back to their roots. They held the Grizzlies to an 86 offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions),which is elite status. They got back to defending, rebounding, and grinding their opponent to dust. Throw in a surprising performace from Richard Jefferson and an impressive debut for Kawhi Leonard, and all of a sudden, the "past their prime" Spurs look like they might be getting back to what made them great.

C: New Jersey Nets: Well, they were down 21 points at one point to the Washington Wizards who were playing without the fifth pick in the draft, Jan Vesely. The Nets looked lost, inept, ridiculous. And then they turned it on. Outscoring the Wizards 53-39 in the second half, they fought their way back into it and watched Flip Saunders' team self-destruct. Deron Williams was the exerienced All-Star. And Kris Humphries, man of the hour. 21 points and 16 rebounds, cleaning up misses and killing the Wizards down low. This was a game that's hard for either team to feel good about because of the opponent, and being down 21 to the Wizards is madness. But they won, and they'll take it.

D: Kobe Bryant: Here's what is working for the Lakers right now, without Andrew Bynum, and why they fell apart in a loss to the Kings. Ball movement, hustle and intelligent, efficient play. And the Lakers, after a lackadaisical game had them out of reach, fought their way back with that exact kind of play. And once again, Kobe Bryant went hero mode and once again, an opportunity to win was squandered by the Hall of Famer. The entire Lakers get a "D" here for failing to play any on the perimeter. (Seriously, Mike Brown, what's it going to take for Derek Fisher to get yanked? How many times must Tyreke Evans blow past him or block him?) But the Lakers keep getting within range through team play, and then Bryant attempts to take the team on his shoulders like he used to. That Kobe is gone, at least until the wrist heals. 24 field goal attempts for Bryant, who leads the league by a mile in usage percentage (percent of possessions used -- tricky stat that), and two turnovers, including an offensive foul late. A bad month for the Black Mamba gets worse.

F: Dallas Mavericks: You have GOT to be kidding us.

Other notable grades:

Incomplete: Chicago Bulls: Are they as bad as they have looked in the first two games after a loss to the Warriors on the road to open the season? No. But they do look bad. Really bad. But with a 1-1 mark, considering the schedule (two West coast road games to start the season on consecutive nights) and the opponent (a Warriors team with confidence after nearly nailing the Clips, even if they were on their own second game of a back to back). The Bulls fought back in and made it a game late, but if they don't make up their homework to the teacher, bad grades are coming.

E for Effort: Minnesota Timberwolves. Open the season with a narrow loss to the Thunder? Rubio looks great. Derrick Williams looks promising. Kevin Love is an All-Star. The effort was there for the Wolves, and they're only going to get better.

Gold stars: Eric Gordon (CLUTCH). Alonzo Gee. Ed Davis. Danilo Gallinari. Sean Williams. Roy Hibbert. Manu Ginobili. Marcus Thornton. Stephen Curry. Tristan Thompson. Tyreke Evans. LaMarcus Aldridge.
 
 
 
 
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