Tag: Rick Rubio

Ricky Rubio

Injuries, defensive woes have Timberwolves playoffs hopes fading


Early in the season it was impressive — without stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio the Timberwolves were winning enough games to stay above .500. They were defending. The schedule was helpful, but it felt like once they got Kevin Love back from his broken hand and Ricky Rubio back from injury they would bolt up the standings.

Instead, they 5-10 in their last 15.

Kevin Love had hand surgery Tuesday and you can expect to see him again in eight to 10 weeks. Rick Rubio is still on a minutes restriction. Their defense over that span is 26th in the league.

Suddenly, the Timberwolves looks like teams such as the Lakers and Mavericks that need some massive turnarounds and strong runs to even make the playoffs. Minnesota is 16-19, three games out of the playoffs, and dropping like a rock.

The basketball fates have been cruel to Minnesota this season. Love broke his hand in preseason in a fluke — doing knuckle pushups — and he was back for 18 games before he broke the same part of his hand requiring surgery. Rubio is back but as you might expect coming off ACL surgery he is not 100 percent, doesn’t fully trust the knee yet (and says he has a little pain) and is just not the guy from his rookie season.

But as John Schuhmann noted at NBA.com, the defensive fall off is even more confusing.

The Wolves survived that first month and a half because they had a top-five defense. They ranked fifth in defensive efficiency through Dec. 15, allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions. Since then, the Wolves have a bottom-five defense, allowing 108.2 points per 100 possessions….

The problems seem to start with big man Nikola Pekovic. The Wolves have allowed an atrocious 110.6 points per 100 possessions in Pekovic’s 436 minutes since Dec. 16. But they haven’t been any better (110.4) with Greg Stiemsma playing center either.

It’s not just the bigs, the Minnesota defensive collapse has been complete — the guards aren’t stopping penetration either. It’s a team effort of bad.

And it’s very unlike a Rick Adelman team.

Unless the Timberwolves have a pretty sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune, they will be back in the lottery again. Which was far from the goal they started the season with. But that goal seems to be fading fast.

Metta World Peace boasts Lakers want to get 73 wins

Metta World Peace

For the Lakers fifth offensive option (if that), Metta World Peace isn’t afraid to do the talking.

We told you how he said he didn’t think anybody could get past the Lakers. We’ve shown you his latest boast-filled video. We showed you him on Yo Gabba Gabba. He’s kind of everywhere right now.

Then there is this quote from his ESPN Los Angeles radio interview recently (via Sports Radio Interviews), when asked about Lakers goals.

“We definitely want to beat the Bulls record and go 73-9, that’s definitely something that I want to do. Whoever is out there at the beginning of the season then we gotta get it. It’s as simple as that. We just have to go get it. (Host: So that Bulls record is something you’re thinking about?) No question. You try to snatch records before you leave this earth. You gotta try to do a lot of great things so it’s definitely a goal. With Dwight Howard, (Steve) Nash, Kobe (Bryant), myself, Pau (Gasol) and then (Antawn) Jamison and a lot of great additions it’s something that’s possible.”

File this in the “good that he’s thinking this way, will never happen” file. I mean, you want you players to think they can win every game, so good for MWP here. But every year some team or teams foolishly think they have a shot at that record, I wish players would stop saying that. It is not going to happen in this case for a lot of reasons.

First off, the West is too deep with good teams. The Clippers are young, talented, have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin plus Jamal Crawford off the bench and they probably end up being the four or five seed in the conference. Minnesota with Kevin Love, Rick Rubio and a lot of nice young pieces are a bubble team to even make the playoffs. There are just too many tough games.

Second, the Lakers should be good with this roster but if Dwight Howard is out for training camp there is going to be an early season adjustment period that will cost them some games. Third, Phil Jackson (who coached that Bulls team) said no team from the West will break that record because the hours and amount of distance traveled is too great and it wears teams down.

And we could go on and on, but this is a silly topic. The Heat aren’t going to win 72 games and in a less deep East they have a better shot at it.