Found February 07, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS Gambling. It's a word with negative connotations, its syllables hinting at seedy casinos and losing money, at unwise choices and recklessness. It's not the kind of word a coach wants applied to his players, especially on the court. That's why over and over, Rick Adelman has said no. No, Ricky Rubio's risky-looking plays aren't gambles. No, the rookie isn't flinging a pass behind his back on just a hope and a prayer. Rubio is smarter than that. Each play he makes, no matter how quick or unexpected, is calculated, an investment in winning. To suggest to Rubio that his flashy plays are for show is to induce a steely glare from the otherwise-pleasant point guard. For a player who's been a pro since age 14, who's continually been surrounded by older more experienced players and spent the majority of his career coming off the bench, the concept of the individual is almost foreign. To Rubio, it's always team first, and perhaps that's why he's had the most constructive reaction to Kevin Love's two-game suspension. Love will miss Tuesday's game against Sacramento and Wednesday's game in Memphis, and without his 25 points and nearly 14 rebounds per game, the Timberwolves will need to increase production from other sources. Individual players will have to take on bigger roles, but a team effort will be crucial to finding any measure of success. At times, though, that can be a hard concept for players to grasp. With a starter like Love out, backup forwards Derrick Williams and Anthony Tolliver know that their opportunities will be greater. Often that leads to an emphasis on the individual I need to do better, I need to score this many more points rather than a more team-centric approach to games. "It's just going to be up to us individually to pick up our games," Tolliver said, adding that he believes each player needs to get two or three more rebounds in Love's absence. Such precise goals are often constraining, and though there's nothing wrong with a player pressuring himself to make the most of his opportunities, there's danger in not thinking about the ways a team needs to adjust to compensate for a missing player. Tolliver said that in games, Love corrects for the mistakes his teammates commit; so instead of focusing on better individual stat lines, it would make more sense for Tolliver and his teammates to find ways to avoid or minimize those mistakes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Rubio is another player whose stat line could see a boost from Love's absence. The rookie point guard has had 11 pointassist double-doubles this season, and each time he's fallen short of a triple-double it's been due to a lack of rebounds. On Jan. 30 he came the closest he has all season to a triple-double, but his eight assists weren't enough. With no Love, Tuesday's game against Sacramento could be Rubio's best shot at a career first, but that's hardly the way he's looking at the game. "I mean, there's a lot of rebounds to take without him because he takes a lot of rebounds," Rubio said. "But we will try to win. That's all." That's all. There are not specific point or rebound goals for Rubio, no mention of anything he needs to do individually. We. We. We. We will try to win. We will see. We have to step up. Rubio knows that he alone can do little to make up for the loss of the team's biggest offensive force, and these two games are the furthest thing from an opportunity. They're a challenge, and for a player as competitive as Rubio, winning matters more than anything. "I just play," Rubio said. "Stats are fun to watch, but it's nothing if you don't win. You just want to win, no matter how many points, no matter how many rebounds, no matter how many assists. The most important is the team win." Rubio doesn't have a concrete plan for playing without Love. He might take more shots, he said, but he might not. He'll have to see how the game unfolds, to wait and decide what approach is best for his team. That flexibility is a far cry from some of his teammates' specific goals for what's needed out of them this week, and perhaps Rubio has an attitude borne out of confidence. Players like Williams and Tolliver, less experienced at starting and playing big minutes, might need to be more rigid in their approaches, but they'd certainly benefit from listening to Rubio. Of course the Timberwolves will enter Tuesday night's game with a strategy. But this year's team has never played without Love, so that plan could be wrong. Being able to adapt, to alter goals and work together, will be crucial, and no one player will be able to compensate for Love. Rubio knows that, and if some of his teammates don't, they'll quickly learn. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.

Kevin Love spent day serving suspension handing out free stuff to fans (photo)

While his teammates were in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies without him due to his serving the back-end of the two-game suspension he received for stomping about the face and chest of Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love chose to go out and spend some time with his fans [...]

Kevin Love: Dirty Play but not a Dirty Player

Basketball is a competitive sport and the NBA is a competitive league. With that being said Kevin Love was out of line Saturday when he stepped on Luis Scola’s face after a steal on Saturday. I am sometimes skeptical about the passion the players play with on a game to game basis in the NBA, but there was no lack of it between Love and Scola the other night. They had been playing...

Rubio, Williams selected to Rising Stars game

MINNEAPOLIS Timberwolves rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams were selected Wednesday to play in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando. The game will be played on Feb. 24 at the Amway Center, and its format will be different this year than in past years. Instead of rookies facing off against second-year players, the teams will be a mixture...

Rookie PGs Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio piling great numbers

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Love's apology and Lee to NBADL Love apologized to Scola both after the game and in a statement issued by the team on Monday following the suspension, and said he has to do a better job handling his emotions. "I don't want to be known for that," Love said after practice. "I want to be known as a stand-up guy who happened to make a...

Timberwolves wilt in road loss to Memphis

No team wants to call a loss expected. No player wants to make excuses or accept it, but, on Wednesday night, the Timberwolves had no other choice.With Kevin Love serving the second and final game of his suspension, the Timberwolves were sluggish all night, falling 85-80 to the Grizzlies in their second loss to Memphis this season. It wasn't a performance to be proud of, but...

Minnesota's Love suspended two games for stomp

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has been suspended two games for stomping on Houston's Luis Scola.

Blake Griffin and Ricky Rubio headline list of players in Rising Stars Challenge

Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio, John Wall and Kyrie Irving headline the list of 18 players who are expected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge exhibition during NBA All-Star weekend at Amway Center, league officials announced Wednesday.

Kevin Love face-stomped Luis Scola over the weekend (GIF)

In between Super Bowls, Puppy Bowls, Adriana Lima, cars that turn into hot European models, and this monstrosity,there was actually some non-Super Bowl-related action in the sports world this weekend, such as this somewhat surprising feat of vileness from Kevin Love on Saturday. Apparently he didn’t take too kindly to Luis Scola’s nutshot earlier in the week. [Gifulmination]

Kings-Timberwolves Preview

It's been six seasons since the Minnesota Timberwolves had a winning record after 25 games. If they are to achieve that feat again, they must do it without their best player. Looking to move above .500 with a third straight victory, the Timberwolves will be without suspended star Kevin Love on Tuesday night when they try to snap the visiting Sacramento Kings' season-high...
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