It’s been a long nine months for Ricky Rubio, his fantasy owners and my fellow Wolves fans. Limited to 19 minutes, he scored 8 PTS, handed out 9 AST — some of them dazzling — and made 3 STL. Be patient; he won’t be up to starter’s minutes right away and may sit out back-to-backs until that left knee is ready for a greater workload. Kevin Love (flu) didn’t play; he’s had just as tough a week as his owners. Nikola Pekovic (21 PTS, 9 REB) and Andrei Kirilenko (14 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK) picked up the frontcourt slack and rookie Alexey Shved (18 PTS, 6 AST, 2 STL) is staking a claim on the permanent SG job.
Credit Dallas with a tremendous effort, 24 hours after getting destroyed in Toronto. Derek Fisher hadn’t scored 20 points in two and a half years, O.J. Mayo matched him and Shawn Marion (14 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST) was very active. The Mavs roared out to a 13-point lead, then gave it all away (and then some) before staging a furious late rally to force overtime. That’s when Big Pek and AK-47 took over.
Other December 15 Games
GSW @ ATL: Unbelievable. That’s the only word for the Warriors, whose two-week, 7-game road trip was damn near perfect. Bouncing back from a loss the night before, and facing a red-hot Atlanta team, Golden State took it to the Hawks all night. Stephen Curry was brilliant — 18 PTS, 11 AST, 8 REB, 3 STL — and David Lee (20 PTS, 11 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) is a double-double machine. Carl Landry (19 PTS, 7 REB) was strong off the bench, and after 12 games without scoring more than 10 points, rookie Harrison Barnes added 19. It was a nightmare evening for Josh Smith, who missed 11 of 12 FG attempts to finish with three points. Al Horford (17 PTS, 10 REB) and backup big man Ivan Johnson (15 PTS, 9 REB) were the bright spots for a team that shot 37% and played with very little energy.
CLE @ NYK: Who was that masked man? Despite a “small maxilarry fracture” (playing with a broken jaw sounds more heroic) Kyrie Irving looked like an assassin and showed no fear, dropping a career-high 41 on the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony (ankle) was a reluctant spectator, and his teammates had to dig deep for the win. Raymond Felton (25 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB) and Tyson Chandler (23 PTS, 10 REB, 2 STL) were outstanding and while J.R. Smith added 16 points, he shot just 6-for-20. Chris Copeland (11) was the surprise starter in place of Melo, who should return on Monday. For the Cavs, C.J. Miles (17) stayed hot, but Anderson Varejao (9 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST) missed a free throw with one second left that would have forced overtime.
ORL @ CHA: Good for the Magic, coming up with a terrific team effort to win again. Not so great for Charlotte, as they were at home vs. a team playing its third game in four nights, but still lost their 11th straight. Although Kemba Walker had a career-high 32 points and 7 assists, while Gerald Henderson (16 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL) returned to the first unit, the Bobcats were no match in the final few minutes. Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 20 PTS apiece, Jameer Nelson (16 PTS, 6 AST, 4 AREB) was steady and Nikola Vucevic had a double-double (13 & 13) as the team shot 54% on the night.