Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves got back at it after falling to CSKA 108-106 in their first preseason game. Heading north of the border, the Wolves took on the Toronto Raptors. Both teams are in similar positions heading into this season – on the fringe of playoff contention. Should a few breaks swing their way, they could both make their first postseason trips in many years. A few injuries (praying for you, Minnesota fans) or bad breaks, however, and they could both be on their way back to the lottery and looking towards the future.
Young point guard Ricky Rubio figures to be a big part of the Wolves’ plans this year. After returning from his ACL tear, Rubio struggled to get back into the groove last year. With a few months of action and full healed, Rubio is primed for a big year.
His passing prowess is well known, and he showed glimpses last night of why he’s one of the most delightful point guards in the world to watch. The first pass highlighted in the video below came early in the first quarter. Rubio took a pass from Kevin Martin and then dribbled off of a screen from Nikola Pekovic on the left wing. The great screen from Pekovic left Rubio open and it appeared that he would pull up for a jumper. As he gathered for the shot, Corey Brewer (in the corner) makes a baseline cut to the basket. Rubio catches Brewer’s man (Rudy Gay) sleeping and feeds Brewer a perfect bounce pass for a layup.
Late in the third quarter, we got another beautiful pass from Rubio. As he controlled his dribble up top, Ronny Turiaf comes up to set a screen. Turiaf’s man (Amir Johnson) tries to hedge and cut off Rubio, but the young Spaniard drives hard to the basket and leaves him behind. He gets to the baseline, forcing help defenders to collapse towards him. With the defense focused on Rubio, Turiaf dives to the rim and is left wide. Rubio hits him for a dunk with a slick bounce pass through traffic.
Rubio finished with 9 points and 7 assists in 26 minutes as the Wolves knocked off the Raptors 101-89. It surely won’t be long until we see Rubio in another edition of Pass of the Night.