Rubio's Triple-Double Comes 2 Days Before Important Anniversary
Ricky Rubio logged his first career triple-double 373 days ago, helping the Timberwolves pick up a win against the streaking San Antonio Spurs that had won 21 of its previous 25 games. That night, March 12, 2013, became a signature moment for Rubio in a season filled with ups and downs surrounding his comeback from knee surgery.
Last night, two nights before the two-year anniversary of his ACL surgery, Rubio was once again at his very best. He logged his second triple-double of the season—his second of the year—a 22-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound, four-steal effort in a 123-122 overtime win over the Mavericks in Dallas.
Much like that very first triple-double outing against the Spurs, Rubio was excellent. He attacked the rim offensively, crashed the boards on the defensive end, showed that innate passing vision and touch and, when the timing was right, disrupted the Mavs’ offense on the defensive end.
He was everywhere, and it didn’t take a filled stat sheet to realize it.
“I was feeling good in warm-ups,” Rubio said. “So I said, ‘Why not be aggressive in the game?’ We knew that Dallas was having problems when you push the ball and playing in the open court. That is the way we like to play, so we did it early.”
Rubio’s Don’t Blink performance was highlighted by his shooting. He was 8-of-12 in the game, which ties the most field goals he’s had in any one game this season. But compared to the 8-of-19 he shot in Portland last month, Wednesday’s contest was far more efficient and calculated.
Rubio’s numbers over the past two seasons have been up and down on a game-by-game basis, but the work ethic and the determination haven’t waned. He’s still working each day with the coaching staff to improve his shot, and he’s still got the head-scratching ability to find his teammates in space when he’s got the ball in his hands. Sometimes, like in the Timberwolves’ win against Sacramento on Sunday, he dishes a no-look pass—unnecessary and unprompted—simply because he can.
And when he’s running the show like he did against Dallas, the Wolves are hard to stop.
“We wanted to attack, and we wanted to get the ball up court and attack the basket,” coach Rick Adelman said.
That win moves Minnesota to two games over .500 since improving to 8-6 with a win over the Nets on Nov. 22. Their 34 wins overall, with 16 games to play, ensures they will have their best win total since winning 44 in 2004-05. And as they head into tonight’s game in Houston, Minnesota officially has the fourth-best record in the NBA at 10-4 since the Wolves and Rockets last met on Feb. 10.
As Rubio’s two-year anniversary of his ACL surgery nears this week, he exploded for one of his best games—not only this season but in his three-year career. It’s easy to forget that between his lockout rookie year and subsequent injury coupled with his recovery time in Year 2, he’s only played 164 games in his career. That’s the exact equivalent of two NBA seasons rolled into three. He continues to grow and continues to get better while showing these flashes of brilliance along the way.
And the best part for the Wolves is regardless of how he performs, his bottom line is winning. He helped the team pick up a big victory on Wednesday night.
“It was a big game against a tough team who is fighting for the playoffs, too,” Rubio said. “We want to try to catch them.”