Top-5 Wolves Games from 2014-15: Rubio leads healthy Wolves to road win


This is the Part Four in a five-part series taking a look at the top-five Wolves games from the 2014-15 season. In a season that only saw the Wolves win a total of 16 games, there aren’t necessarily a ton of contests to choose from, but these five were a lot of fun.

#2 – Wolves win a tough one in Brooklyn with a full lineup, 98-91 (box score and recap)

Let’s get in our way-back machine and reminisce about perhaps the only game when the Wolves enjoyed a full lineup and bench rotation — before the injuries, before the fatigue, before the trades. It was all the way back on November 5th of last year, and it was glorious.

The Wolves had opened the season with a tough road loss in Memphis, a home win against Detroit, and a heart-breaking home loss to the Chicago Bulls when Andrew Wiggins fouled Jimmy Butler just before the final buzzer and turned a one-point win into a one-point loss. After three days of rest, Minnesota was in Brooklyn to face old friend Kevin Garnett and a decidedly average Nets squad.

The Nets had an intriguing if not solid veteran starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Garnett, and Brook Lopez. The bench featured Jarrett Jack, Mason Plumlee, Minnesota native Alan Anderson, and another old friend in Andrei Kirilenko.

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On the other side, the Wolves had their ideal rotation. Kevin Martin had returned from a pre-season injury that hampered him in the opening games of the regular season and joined Ricky Rubio, Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, and a healthy Nikola Pekovic in the starting lineup. The bench rotation was Mo Williams, Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Bennett, Corey Brewer, and Shabazz Muhammad with Zach LaVine getting a DNP-CD alongside Robbie Hummel and Chase Budinger. Other than Bennett playing 12 minutes, that’s pretty much how that rotation should have played out.

We all know what happened after this game — two nights later in Orlando, Rubio sprained his ankle and was out for three months. Shortly thereafter, Thaddeus Young’s mother died, Kevin Martin broke his hand, and eventually Nikola Pekovic’s foot flared up once again. Bennett was a disappointment, Muhammad played surprisingly well before going down with a season-ending injury himself, and eventually Brewer, Young, and finally Williams were traded away.

But let’s enjoy November 5th.

It was a tie game at halftime before the Wolves were able to largely take control of the third quarter. The game hung in the balance down the stretch, however and it was up to Martin and Rubio on the Wolves side to hold the Nets off, and they did.

Martin scored 24 points on 7 of 19 shooting and Wiggins scored 17 points on 7 of 12 from the field, but Rubio was once again the straw that stirred the Wolves’ drink on this night.

While Deron Williams did manage to score 19 points on 8 of 16 shooting, Rubio pestered him into four turnovers and a -18 plus/minus on the night. Rubio himself had a fantastic evening, scoring 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting to go along with 12 assists, eight rebounds, two steals, and just four turnovers in 34 minutes.

This on the heels of the Wolves inking Rubio to that four-year, $56 million extension that will kick in this fall. Here at Dunking With Wolves, our own recap lauded Rubio as “invaluable” to the team.

But then the injury. Again. And the season went down the tubes just that quickly.

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