Feb 4, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter at Target Center. Trail Blazers won 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Rubio Surges, Leading from Behind, Captain Obvious & the WSJ

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the Wolves loss to the Blazers Monday — and the Luke Ridnour foul 90 feet from the basket with 0:00.2 remaining in the first half was a definite low point for me. But I’m making a conscious effort to ignore that right now, because the last 5 games have shown there’s something worth watching right now. Oceanary at canishoopus explains:

…despite not coming up Aces. Rubio’s had some mighty fine performances in his year-and-spare-change here in Antarctica, but this is the first time we’ve really seen him take over. Control the floor. Just dominate, Jason Kidd circa NJN style. Need the proof? Check out his 4th quarter:

11:07 Dante Cunningham makes 19-foot jumper (Ricky Rubio assists)

8:48 Alexey Shved makes 25-foot three point jumper (Ricky Rubio assists)

6:56 Greg Stiemsma makes layup (Ricky Rubio assists)

5:37 J.J. Barea makes layup (Ricky Rubio assists)

4:58 Ricky Rubio makes driving layup

4:22 Dante Cunningham makes 18-foot jumper (Ricky Rubio assists)

3:46 Dante Cunningham makes 19-foot jumper (Ricky Rubio assists)

3:10 Dante Cunningham makes 15-foot jumper (Ricky Rubio assists)

2:38 Dante Cunningham makes two point shot (Ricky Rubio assists)

1:46 Ricky Rubio makes free throw 1 of 2

1:46 Ricky Rubio makes free throw 2 of 2

0:36 J.J. Barea makes layup (Ricky Rubio assists)

0:21 Dante Cunningham makes dunk (Ricky Rubio assists)

That’s 25 points Rubio directly generated in the 4th quarter alone. He didn’t LeBron James it….he didn’t score them all (in fact he only scored 4 of them) But he most definitely was responsible for them.

This is the potential everyone raves about. This is what makes Rubio special.

Rubio’s begun consistently showing speed and decisiveness he’s only flashed at times so far this year. The pick-and-pop with Dante was machine-like in its efficiency down the stretch and his defense on Wesley Matthews and Damian Lillard in the 4th quarter was remarkable after suffering through Ridnour and Shved’s inability to close out or the Wolves bigs lethargic close-outs earlier in the game. Those reverse layups were a sign that he’s getting his mojo back, and that 15-foot elbow jumper could prove his bread and butter.

Now about that earlier part of the game. Derrick Williams had himself a game with 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 fouls and a single point on 0-5 shooting in 19 minutes. My favorite comment of the day concerning his performance came from canishoopus from the Portland game wrap:

He is not Kawhi Leonard, Chandler Parsons, Enes Kanter, Jonas Valunciunas, Nicola Vucevic, Kenneth Faried, or even Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kyle Singler, or Marshon Brooks—all of whom were available to the self-proclaimed LEADERS IN PLAYER DEVELOPMENT! when Williams was drafted, and are both better players and better fits for this team.

Which one of those players would not be a better fit for the Wolves right now than Derrick? Poor guy was overwhelmed by LeMarcus Aldridge’s length and KG-like long jumpers. He looked awkward trying to get out there to guard him. Dante would seem to have to stick with the 2nd unit, if only to provide an anchor for Barea and Shved’s high wire acts, but Williams needs a bounce here soon.

Rags like the Wall Street Journal are good for obvious statements and story lines. Their latest focused on the Wolves 2nd half futility:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on their way to missing the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. But at least they give 50% effort. If NBA games ended at halftime, the Timberwolves, 18-26 entering Monday, would have at least eight more wins—they’ve been tied at the half once through Sunday—and would be firmly entrenched as the No. 6 seed in the West.

To put Minnesota’s second-half futility in perspective, we recalculated the NBA standings if each game played so far this season had ended after 24 minutes instead of 48.

So if you’ve been having that ‘here we go again’ feeling when the 3rd quarter comes around. You know it’s not just you, because if the Journal has it, it’s everyone.

The biggest waste of time was found at punchdrunkwolves, as an old friend flexed his, uh, knowledge with multiple instructional training youtube clips.

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