User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

Rubio's knee is back, but the wins are not

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The balance Ricky Rubio is trying to strike as this difficult Minnesota Timberwolves season heads into its final month isn't really a balance at all.

On one side, Rubio's surgically repaired left knee is finally back to normal, and the sizzle in his game has returned right along with it. The behind-the-back passes, the uncanny defensive instincts, the boundless energy that made him a rookie sensation last year. They're all there again as he approaches the one-year anniversary of his torn ACL.

On the other side, the victories have not returned with Rubio's game. And for the Spanish point guard who has won at every level he's played in his young career, the lack of team success has been more painful and frustrating than the long, slow rehabilitation process he has completed.

``I miss winning so bad,'' Rubio said after a rare victory, this one over the Washington Wizards. ``I just want to win every night. I know it's hard and you can't do it. Even Miami can't do it every night. But I miss that feeling so bad.''

The Timberwolves have watched a once-promising season sunk by a slew of injuries, leaving them tied for the fewest wins in the Western Conference. The losing is a new experience for Rubio, who never had a record worse than 23-11 in six seasons playing in Spain's prestigious ACB league.

In Rubio's final five seasons of Spanish league play, his teams lost a total of 40 games. The Wolves have lost 37 already this season, including 22 of the last 27.

``It's tough,'' Rubio said last week. ``I was talking to my dad and I was like, `I've never lost so many games in a season and I've lost more games in the last month than all my life, I think.' I'm not going to get used to it. We have to change.''

So many players have walked into the Timberwolves' locker room over the last six or seven years and have been worn down by the losing. A glazed look washes over their faces and they become resigned to their fate.

Not Rubio.

As they have faded from contention over the last month, his play has become even more determined. He is averaging 13.5 points, 9.8 assists and 3.2 steals in the last 13 games. He has 43 steals in the last 10 games, the highest 10-game total since Ron Artest in 2002.

And it's not just the stats. He's played more than 36 minutes in eight of the last 13 games for a team that has been playing with just nine healthy players. In the face of deficiencies in talent and manpower, Rubio has been unyielding. He continues to push the pace relentlessly and dive on the floor for loose balls as he tries to set a tone for the rest of a tired team.

He's also averaging 4.1 turnovers over the last 13 games, a sign that coach Rick Adelman thinks shows that sometimes he tries to do a little too much.

``He's just trying to do everything,'' Adelman said. ``He really wants to win. Hopefully it rubs off on everybody else.''

With the postseason no longer an option, that's the best Rubio can do. He hopes to get his friend Kevin Love, another player who hasn't gotten comfortable with losing, back in the next couple of weeks. Then the two of them can work toward establishing a different attitude in Minnesota.

Rubio got plenty of attention last week during a game in Los Angeles when he told a downtrodden Alexey Shved to ``change this face. Be happy. Enjoy!'' He is at the same time trying to lift his teammates' spirits and instill in them an aversion to losing.

``We feed off of him,'' Wolves forward Derrick Williams said. ``We all look to him. Your point guard is supposed to be your leader. He's really taken that role and run with it. We're following his lead.''

And it's not just on the court. After the Wolves lost a home game to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 1, Rubio sat sullen in his locker, unable to put a smile on his normally sunny face.

``It's definitely the worst,'' he said then. ``I don't know how to say, how to feel after losing that many games. We play hard every night, but if you keep losing it's hard. We have to change our mentality and be more aggressive in the first minutes.''

Losing is supposed to sting like that. It's supposed to leave a mark. It does for Rubio.

The playoffs are long gone for these Wolves, but Rubio isn't giving in. He's going to spend the rest of the season continuing to get himself back to where he was before the knee injury, which happened a year ago this Saturday.

He'll also spend it finding out just who on this team is willing to follow him.

``Even if we're losing,'' Rubio said, ``we have to show everybody that we want to win.''


Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Rogers: Wednesday's Tip Sheet
News: 2016-17 Win Total Best Bets
Marshall: East Betting Outlook
Marshall: West Betting Outlook Season Win Total Best Bets
Spurs rout Warriors in KD's debut
Blazers outlast Jazz, 'over' cashes
James lifts Cavs in rout of Knicks
Wall, Beal ready to lead Wizards
Why Buy Picks From
NBA Pro Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 3334
Chip Chirimbes + 2359
Kevin Rogers + 2258
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Paul Bovi 59 %
Greg Smith 57 %
Marc Lawrence 55 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 1899
Jimmy Boyd + 1029
Stephen Nover + 839
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2612
Paul Bovi + 1349
NeiltheGreek + 553
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 2846
Paul Bovi + 1160
Mark Franco + 1143
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Sports Picks
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 300
NeiltheGreek + 300
Jimmy Boyd + 200
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 300
NeiltheGreek + 300
Jimmy Boyd + 200
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Brian Edwards 100 %
Stephen Nover 100 %
Doc's Sports 100 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 100
Doc's Sports + 100
Stephen Nover + 100
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 200
NeiltheGreek + 200
Joe Williams + 100
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Gary Bart + 100
Bruce Marshall + 100
Jimmy Boyd + 100
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership