Top-5 Wolves Games from 2014-15: Rubio plays hero in win over Grizzlies


This is the Part Five 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.

#1 – Rubio dominates final minutes in home win over Grizzlies, 90-89 (box score and recap)

The best game of the 2014-15 Wolves season was the middle win of a three-game winning streak in early February — not coincidentally part of the stretch in which Ricky Rubio returned from his severely-sprained ankle to play in 17 of 20 games before being shut down for the rest of the season in mid-March.

The Wolves were coming off of an exciting home win on February 4th after Rubio had made his return in a loss in Dallas on the 2nd. The mighty Memphis Grizzlies were in town, and it seemed pretty unlikely that the home team would be able to muster a win.

But the Wolves hung tight throughout the contest, managing a 53-53 tie at halftime and trailing by just four points heading into the final frame. Rubio was still on somewhat of a minutes limit, and was absolutely getting banged around a bit by the physical defense of the Grizzlies. The biggest scare came with about six minutes remaining. Rubio tweaked his ankle on a drive to the hoop and limped directly back into the locker room. At the time, the Wolves were trailing by just two points.

I’ll let my game recap from the night of this fantastic contest take it from here. And yes, I still have this game saved on my DVR for basketball-less summer nights.

"The Wolves fell behind by as many as seven points on a Marc Gasol layup with 3:12 showing on the clock. Rubio immediately short-armed a layup and the Grizzlies could have extended the lead to nine or ten points but couldn’t, and the Wolves were still in the game.And sure enough, down four with under a minute to play, Andrew Wiggins missed a jumper, Thaddeus Young chased down the rebound, and Rubio dribbled to an open spot along the break on the right side of the floor and drilled a three-pointer to pull the Wolves to within one point with 34 seconds remaining.On the other end, Rubio forced Conley to wait until deep in the shot clock to attempt an entry pass to Zach Randolph, and Young knocked the ball away. Rubio picked it up and was grabbed by Randolph with just 10 seconds remaining and Rubio knocked down both free throws to put the Wolves up by one.The Grizzlies tried to run a high screen-and-roll with Conley and Gasol, but Rubio pressed up on Conley with a good show on the pick from Nikola Pekovic, and Andrew Wiggins paid attention on the backside of the play and was there when Conley’s timing was off and his pass was slightly behind Gasol. Wiggins hoisted the ball in Rubio’s direction down the court, and time expired before Memphis could recover."

This was a legitimately good basketball game regardless of how you slice it. It was also a signal and a suggestion of just how good Minnesota could have been if given a healthy roster from Day One — this was just before Mo Williams and Thad Young were traded away and included 21 minutes of Nikola Pekovic. And, of course, Ricky Rubio.

Within two weeks of this victory and after only three games with this lineup intact, Williams and Young were gone and Pek was about to be shutdown for the remainder of the season. Indeed, the Wolves were 5-4 when Rubio started and finished a game and Williams and Young were on the roster, with two of those losses coming against the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors.

Rubio’s final line from this game was 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting including 3 of 4 on three-pointers and the game-winning free throws. He also dished out five assists, and grabbed four rebounds and three steals in just 25 minutes of playing time. Also notable was Andrew Wiggins’ 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting with six rebounds.

This was a fun game, and if you have the ability to go back and watch it on your DVR like yours truly or possibly on NBA League Pass archive, you should definitely take advantage of that opportunity. It will remind you of what a Rubio-Wiggins tandem could be and reaffirms the potential that the 2015-16 season holds.

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