Ricky Rubio exited Friday night's game against the Orlando Magic with a sprained left ankle late in the second quarter. The injury occurred as Rubio planted his left foot to jump into the air, appearing to step on the toe of Willie Green in the process, which caused his ankle to severely roll.
GIF: Ricky Rubio rolls left ankle http://t.co/F2z3cDoXQV— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 8, 2014
Immediately after falling to the floor in pain his ankle started swelling and he was helped off the court by teammates; quickly pronounced out for the game. Initial reports diagnosed a sprained left ankle and stated that he would be re-evaluated on Saturday. The good news is this: his ankle is not broken.
Flip tells the media that x-rays on Ricky's ankle revealed no break. Will be reevaluated tomorrow. #Twolves— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) November 8, 2014
It was a scary injury, especially given Rubio's reaction to it, but without further information it's too hard to predict how long he could be out. If he ends up missing a few weeks his absence obviously creates a huge hole at point guard, thrusting Mo Williams into the starting spot and Zach LaVine into the backup role.
During the second half, Williams couldn't hit a shot and the offense was stalling under his watch. He had a couple of nice dishes, finished with 7 assists, and a few big blocks (3) on the defensive end, but his shot wasn't falling. They weren't great looks either and were mostly contested shot attempts.
As for LaVine, he played it pretty safe and didn't have any serious hero-ball moments. It was a good showing in limited minutes. He was able to set up the offense and made the right passes within the system. On the night, he finished with 4 points and 2 assists, including a steal and a block in 8 minutes; his first extended non-garbage-time run of the season.
Depending on the severity of Rubio's ankle injury, LaVine could find himself playing real minutes in the next few games or even weeks. While he's probably not a point guard, it really doesn't matter. That's how he's being used on this team and that's where opportunity exists.
Even without Rubio the Wolves should have won this game.
Kevin Martin missed a short jumper in the final seconds of regulation that would have ended the contest. It was a good look overall, but drawing up the final play for the coldest shooter -- he was coming off five or six straight misses -- didn't seem like a wise decision to me. Personally, I thought Flip Saunders should have thrown Andrew Wiggins into the fire. If there's one guy that can truly create his own shot on the Wolves it's most definitely Wiggins. Why not draw up a play to get him 1-on-1 with his defender? I wanted to see Flip give him the chance to win the game. Instead, he opted for the safe veteran play.
But that missed shot wasn't the most notable play. A mishandled inbounds pass by Martin [insert nightmares of last year's Clippers' loss] pretty much cost the Wolves the victory. Maybe he was fouled, maybe he wasn't, but the team choked in a pivotal late game situation. All they needed to do was get it cleanly in the hands of one of their guards on an inbounds play and they would have been shooting a pair of free throws to potentially go up by 4 points, essentially putting the game on ice. Instead the Magic stole the ball, Vucevic hit a pair of free throws to tie the game, and Martin missed a potential game-winner that sent the game into overtime.
Rookie Aaron Gordon took it from there. He had six of his 17 points in overtime to lead the Magic to their second win of the season (2-4). Without their leader the Wolves weren't able to hold on. Orlando had a ton of momentum after the fourth ended and it carried over to the extra period. The Wolves were outscored 18-9 to lose the game (112-103).
Evan Fournier led the Magic with 20 points, including 11 in the first quarter, and Tobias Harris had 17 points and 16 rebounds. The Wolves were outrebounded 52-38 in what became the poorest showing on the glass early this season. They also attempted the most 3-pointers in a game yet this season (18) but put up their worst percentage (22.2%). Martin was the main long-range threat, but finished only 3-11 from deep and 7-20 from the field (21 points).
On a night filled with negative results, the only real bright spot for Minnesota was the play of Gorgui Dieng and Corey Brewer. In 25 minutes off the bench, Dieng posted a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) and added two steals and two blocks to the stat sheet. It was his best game of the young season, spurred by a season-high 25 minutes. Brewer also had his best game of the year (16 points on 6-11 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 steals) in 28 minutes off the bench, but playing him over Wiggins for the majority of overtime was a curious move by Saunders.
Losing to the Magic stings, but watching Rubio go down in tremendous pain was far more difficult to watch. It was a tough showing for Timberwolves basketball Friday night at the Amway Center. One night, two terrible losses.