Wolves fans, tonight was a victory. Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved played well and provided some fantastic highlights in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, and nobody got hurt. That’s really all we can ask for as Wolves fans, right?
Rubio had a number of early highlight-reel-worthy passes that were wasted by missed shots, dunks, and layups, but it was easy to see that he was in his element. To see Rubio dribble up the court was to see Picasso at work, knowing he had a blank canvass but so many ideas for what to paint. With the wheels in Rubio’s head almost visibly turning at a frenetic pace, he serenaded fans with an array of scintillating passes early in the game, tossing in a backwards-between-the-legs dribble in traffic that led to a layup of his own. Rubio even added a made three-pointer in the first half, eventually shooting 2 of 4 for the game.
Rubio, along with fellow guards Isaiah Thomas and Brandon Knight, spent much of the game feeding the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried down low for an array of thunderous alley-oops. In the second half, Rubio came off of a Faried screen at the top of the key, dribbled to his right, and skipped a pass high off the backboard to Faried. It was a little high, and Faried was just a hair too far from the basket when he received the pass, but he was still able to tip the ball through the hoop and salvage the highlight.
Shved appeared to surprise the masses (or, at least TNT analyst Chris Webber) with his athleticism and shooting accuracy. The Russian rookie was on the receiving end of two alley-oops in the first half, including throwing down an impressive reverse jam in traffic. He also threw a couple of alley-oop passes himself, and shot 2 of 4 from long range. In the second half, Shved drove down the right baseline and completed a ferocious one-handed reverse. If you have seen highlights of Shved in Russia, he occasionally did those sorts of things against inferior competition, but Wolves’ fans have not seen too much of Shved’s athletic burst at the rim this season.
The game was a blowout, with Team Chuck winning easily by a score of 163-135. Faried was everywhere, finishing the game with 40 points on 18 of 22 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard and Tristan Thompson each added 20 points for Team Chuck in the victory. Rubio and Shved both played very well and provided ample highlights for their limited time on the court. Their stat lines are below. Enjoy the rest of All-Star Weekend!
Ricky Rubio: 5 points (2 of 4 FGs, 1 of 3 3pt), 10 assists, 1 steal, and 1 turnover in a team-low 15 1/2 minutes.
Alexey Shved: 12 points (5 of 8 FGs, 2 of 4 3pt), 4 assists, 1 rebound in 18 minutes.