So here's the script.
That dastardly duo of Damien Lillard and Wes Matthews were going through their usual motions of annihilating the poor Pups, when Ricky Rubio decided enough was enough, and unleashed his inner Han Solo.
Luke Sywalker Ridnour's doin' work for us, but let's be honest: that farmboy would have never gotten off his miracle shot on the Death Star without Han.
(PS We've got Luke, now Han, and Pek could make a pretty convincing Chewbacca. S-n-P and I would pass for a couple bickering droids, so all we need is a princess and the Heat are done for. Right?)
Ok. So the Wolves still lost. That's what happens when you let the bad guys shoot 58% (....I've stopped keeping count of the over-50 column. Depressing...) Once again, 'Sota wins the free throw and turnover battles and loses the war. Ugh.
But there's always that silver lining, and right now, it's a Spanish Unicorn charging full speed ahead. Ricky got embarrassed by John Wall and the Wizards, and has responded like the insane competitor he is: 11 points, 8 assists and 2 steals per over his last 5 games on 46% shooting. Tonight, he tied his career high of 14 assists while absolutely obliterating what Portland apparently thought was supposed to be their 4th quarter defense. Rubio went into all-out attack mode, creating offense by getting into the lanes and creating chaos. The last shot attempt over the towering LaMarcus Aldridge was maybe not the best decision. But you can hardly fault him for wanting to try. He was the best thing the Wolves had going in this one.
Look, Rubio hates losing. Love might be more vocal about it, but Ricky seems to take it a lot more personally. The guy's been playing pro basketball almost as long as LeBron James, and has lost just about as little as LBJ as well. Not often. He won the EuroChallenge Championship the year he debuted at age 14. He won the Eurocup in 2008, then the Euroleague Championship in 2010. He was named to all sorts of 'All-whatever' teams his whole career in Spain. He's a winner. Losing is not in his character. When it starts happening, he changes it.
And that's maybe what made tonight's tilt so great to watch, 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.
Moral victories are not fun. Not after 5 straight years of them. But as S-n-P has already pointed out, this season is a lost cause in all but actual name at this point, so I'm more than willing to see the good in emerging dominance of our no-longer injured franchise point guard.
- The evil nagging injury bug has returned from the depths to reclaim Andrei Kirilenko. Quad strain. Doesn't sound too serious, didn't look too serious, but well....it was obviously serious enough to keep him from coming back.
- LaMarcus Aldridge did a pretty fine Kevin Garnett impression tonight: 25 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, managed not to be part of Portland's turnover problem. The guy's not half-bad.
- I also fully understand BlazerEdge's regular's reluctance over Pek. They've spent years fighting to nail LMA's shoes to the paint, and they need a goalie on defense. Pek isn't a shotblocker, and his presence might encourage Aldridge to think it's ok to drift back out to the 15-18 foot range.
- That said, I still expect Portland to make as big an offer to Pek as they can. Just to spite us, if nothing else. Those stories about Paul Allen's vindictiveness? They're more a biography.
- Also, it's never ever good to lose a game where your opponent coughs up the ball 28 times. Eeesh.
- Speaking of turnovers, teams have indeed figured out Alexey Shved jumps every times he looks to make a pass. Someone make the guy watch the last, oh, 9 years of tape on Steve Nash. Knock it off Shved.
- Get Chase Budinger healthy.
- Get JJ Redick
- Paul George, the...Fresno Unicorn...?
- FYI kids, we passed on that guy to draft someone who can't even dribble in a straight line.
- And David Kahn still has a job.
- I still think this team is leaving free points on the table not playing Chris Johnson. I know Adelman doesn't like unproven games, but the reality is this is a hands-free pick and roll league, and Rubioops to CJ are about as guaranteed scoring as this team is going to get at this point.
- Here's the plan. Tank. Draft Nerlens Noel. Trade Pek, get Pau Gasol. Trade Williams, cut Roy, let Love storm his way out, sign Cunningham for life. 2014, let Gasol's deal expire, ensure Roy Hibbert has bankrupted the Pacers, then throw max money at Rubio and George, and viola! Rubio/Shved/George/Cunningham/Noel. Anyone?
- Oh look, Doug Collins remembered Spencer Hawes is alive.
- And just so we're clear: Han shot first. Even George admits it.
$4 billion and that's the best shirt he can find....