Rubio's 24 Points, Wolves' 17 Steals Lift Minnesota Past Suns 105-93
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After three quarters that were largely back-and-forth, the Wolves used a career scoring night from Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea’s hot shooting in the fourth to run away with a 105-93 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
“It was great,” Barea said of the final quarter. “We needed a little push at the end to get us over the top. We did a great job. We knocked some shots down, and it was great for us.”
Minnesota went on a 7-2 run in the fourth quarter—with Barea scoring every point—to build a solid lead. A pair of long jumpers from Rubio brought the lead as high as 13, and the Suns could never recover.
Wolves vs. Suns
The Wolves did a great job of capitalizing off the Suns’ miscues, turning 28 turnovers into 33 points. Six Minnesota players had two or more steals, and the 17 team steals tie a franchise record that dates back to 2000.
“We were active,” Barea said. “They did a bad job of throwing the ball all over the place, too. A little bit of both... it worked out for us tonight.”
Luis Scola started at center again with Marcin Gortat sidelined due to injury. The big man scored 14 and grabbed nine boards, but he also turned the ball over eight times by himself. Goran Dragic also turned in a strong effort (10 points, 14 rebounds) and former Minnesota player Wes Johnson scored 15.
Rubio, known more for his passing and basketball IQ than scoring ability, scored a career-high 24 points. He also tallied 10 assists, five rebounds and five rebounds, becoming just the fourth player all year to hit those marks in a single game.
He also showed how his offensive game continues to expand, shooting a season-high 18 shots from the field. As he becomes more and more comfortable on the NBA floor, Rubio has been trying more long jumpshots—and he saw success tonight.
“They were leaving me alone,” Rubio said of his shooting selection. “At the beginning, I was trying to play for the team, but at one point I was feeling like I had to shoot the ball... Without Pek, Without Kevin (Love), there are shots to take, and I’m going to take them.”
Barea had 16 points for the Wolves off the bench, complemented by 15 from Derrick Williams and 14 from Andrei Kirilenko.
Leader of the Pack: Ricky Rubio
Although Barea is a strong candidate for this award with a 7-for-9 shooting performance, Rubio became just the fourth player this year to record a 20+ point/10+ assist/5+ steal/5+ rebound game. As far as the Wolves franchise, he became just the fourth player all-time to accomplish this statistical line. His 24 points were a career high.
Play of the Game
In the middle of his seven-point scoring run, J.J. Barea came around a pick and found a driving lane on the right side. He drove in but went up-and-under to the left side, where he applied spin on the ball and got the bucket.
"Yeah, even Kevin Durant or Kobe miss shots. Why I can’t miss shots, you know?"—Wolves guard Ricky Rubio on his shooting slump over the past week
The Wolves play their final home game of the season Monday against Utah before heading to San Antonio Wednesday to close out the year.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com