After years of waiting, Ricky Rubio took the floor for the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. The score isn’t important, it’s a preseason game. What is important is that Rubio finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and just 1 turnover in 24 minutes. Not bad for the youngster’s first time out.
In a lot of ways, Rubio’s debut was what we expected. Brilliant vision. Stellar playmaking. Terrible shooting. Good perimeter defense. Bowled over physically in the post. And, oh, yeah, this.
Rubio may be the next coming of Maravich without the jumper. He may be the Rookie of the Year. He could have had a good night against a bad team in preseason. He could struggle when defenses get the book on him. But it’s going to be pretty exciting watching to see how this story unfolds. Another reason to celebrate the NBA being back.
Three things we learned Thursday: Dwight Howard can go home again
The NBA is back, as is PBT with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. This is what you missed while checking out the Pokemon statue in New Orleans.
1) Dwight Howard can go home again (at least for one game).What has everyone been asking of Dwight Howard for years and years? Simply play hard defense, crash the boards, and let the offense come to you. Maybe Howard needed to go home for those lessons to sink in. Playing his first game for his hometown Hawks, Howard was a beast on the boards, particularly in the first half. He had seven boards in the first six minutes, and by half he had corralled 15 boards and scored nine points. He finished the night with 19 rebounds and 11 points, which included some highlight dunks.
Howard also played good defense, and the Hawks got the win at home over the Wizards. We’ll see if this Howard keeps showing up night after night, but it was a promising start.
While Howard was good, make no mistake Paul Millsap is still the Hawks best player. He finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and was a plus 22. He took over in the second half and was part of the reason the Hawks pulled away with a 23-5 run in the fourth.
2) What spacing problems? Bulls shoot 44 percent from three in win over Celtics. Boston’s defensive game plan was the one every team is going to employ against Chicago: With Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler on the floor, just go under all the picks and dare for the Bulls to win with jumpers. Because we all know the Bulls can’t shoot. Except Thursday night the Rondo/Wade/Butler trio hit 9-of-14 from thee, and as a team the Bulls shot 44 percent from deep. That included Wade knocking down the dagger three in a win over the Celtics.
Congrats to my brother @DwyaneWade for his debut tonight! I know this is a childhood dream that he's living right now. How awesome is that?
Make no mistake, the Bulls still had shooting woes — they shot 37.3 percent inside the arc — they just got bailed out by the threes and 18 offensive rebounds. Chicago is not going to shoot from deep like this every game. Expect them to regress to the mean over the next few games. But it’s a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, this team was knocking down shots when it needed to for a night. Or, maybe it’s just the Bulls save their best games for TNT.
3) Blake Griffin is healthy and people seem to forget just how good he is. There was Reggie Miller on the TNT broadcast saying “Blake Griffin is back” as the Clippers’ forward scored 27 and pulled down 13 boards in a win in Portland. Some were expressing the same sentiment on Twitter. Their wrong. Griffin isn’t back, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy he is an awesome force of nature who can score inside and out, crashes the boards, and is a deft passer. He’s as good as any power forward in the game when right. Remember, back in 2014 when Chris Paul had to miss extended time Griffin came in third in the MVP voting? That wasn’t a fluke.
Griffin and CP3 are healthy, and so long as they stay that way this Clippers team is one of the top four in the NBA and a real threat to at least make the conference finals. They just need to keep themselves together for 81 more games.
Howard, Millsap, Hardaway lead Hawks past Wizards 114-99
ATLANTA (AP) Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.
Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn’t unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.
But Hardaway’s performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.
He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes.
Markieff Morris led Washington with 22 points, but it was a tough night for the Wizards’ dynamic backcourt duo. John Wall finished with only 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting, while Bradley Beal was held to 13.
Hardaway, on the other hand, scored 12 points in the final period, breaking open a game that was close through the first three quarters.
Wizards: Marcin Gortat had 11 rebounds but didn’t have much help. Washington was outrebounded 52-40. … Otto Porter was the only other Washington player in double figures with 10 points. … The Wizards locked arms during the national anthem.
Hawks: Howard posted the most rebounds for anyone in their Atlanta debut, breaking the mark of 18 that Shareef Abdur-Rahim set at Houston on Oct. 30, 2001. … Dennis Schroder, taking over as the starting point guard after the trade of Jeff Teague, had 14 points but only two assists.
There are a lot of teams that could use KG as a consultant, I would expect the Timberwolves are part of that mix as well. He’s going to have the respect and ear of players for teams trying to get a message across to a young squad.
Garnett isn’t doing this for the money, he can pick-and-choose where he feels comfortable and needed.
Watch Dwyane Wade hit dagger three to lift Bulls past Celtics