The Timberwolves are amidst a horrible midseason swoon. They’ve lost seven out of their last eight games, the latest a 91-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home on Wednesday night. Currently 10th in the West, the Wolves look more like a lottery team of late then they do a playoff contender. Adding to the frustration now is Rubio’s disappointment with being benched last night.
A week ago Rubio was pretty candid about his lack of playing time. He told NBA.com that he wants more time, despite recovering from a surgically repaired knee.
“It’s hard because I still have a little pain and it’s something you have to fight through and get through,” Rubio said a week ago. “I talk with the guys who had the same injury and they say about a year, a year-and-a-half [after surgery] they started feeling, like, normal. It’s tough when you’re playing with something in your mind; you don’t want to think about it, but it’s in your mind that you’re going slower and you are not who you used to be. That’s going to come, but you have to be patient.”
It seems some of Rubio’s patience is waning. Sitting throughout the fourth quarter against the Nets, Rubio approached the scorers table twice apparently ready to check in. Both times, coach Terry Porter changed his mind and let JJ Barea remain in the game. One of those times, Barea waved off the sub and hit a three to cut the Wolves deficit to five points.
“I want to know what happened,” Rubio said last night. “We’re going to talk. ‘TP’ preferred to play the other players who were playing. I don’t know what to say. I don’t like it.”
Porter defended the decision in his postgame press conference. “It wasn’t something Ricky did,” Porter assured. “It’s tough decisions in regards to personnel at the end of games, based on who’s hot and who’s not hot. We talked about it and decided to go with J.J.”
We’re not sure that explanation is going to satisfy Rubio. Some of the frustration is likely with his inability to play at the level he is accustomed. He’s not the first athlete and he won’t be the last that struggles with getting his body back to normal after an injury. Adrian Peterson’s freakish performance this year has left us a little spoiled with how difficult it is to return from injury.
However, Rubio’s frustration goes beyond his return from knee injury. He has been vocal about his lack of playing time. He has also been vocal about the team using injuries as an excuse for their current losing streak. He’s been clear that he thinks the players that are healthy have to step up and do a better job on the court. He’s also been adamant that he feels there are some players on the court that simply don’t have a will to win.
“It’s hard for us to finish games,” Rubio said. “We have to want to win. Sometimes it seems that we don’t want to win.”
Everyone’s negative when the team is losing. It’s a little hard to swallow when it’s coming from such a positive player like Rubio.