MINNEAPOLIS After straining his right quad at the end of the second quarter of Monday's loss to Portland, Timberwolves small forward Andrei Kirilenko is questionable for Wednesday's game against the Spurs. If he were to miss the game, it would be just his fifth missed game this season; he sat for four in late November and early December with back spasms.
In other Kirilenko-related news, he will be presented Wednesday with the Euroscar European Player of the Year Award, which is presented to the best European basketball player, regardless of where he plays, every year. The award is given by the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta and is voted on my players, coaches and writers from 14 countries.
It is the first time in his career Kirilenko has won the award. Past winners include Drazen Petrovic (199-93), Toni Kukoc (1994, 1996, 1998), Arvydas Sabonis (1995, 1997, 1999), Gregor ***** (2000), Peja Stojakovic (2001), Dirk Nowitzki (2002-06, 2011), Tony Parker (2007) and Pau Gasol (2008-10). The award has been given out 21 times, and only once, in 2000, was it given to a player who did not spend at least part of his year playing in the NBA.
Frankly, I have no idea how highly regarded this award is in Europe, but by winning it, Kirilenko joins some pretty elite company.
Ricky Rubio's progress: Ricky Rubio's 10 assists in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game tied a franchise high. Rubio did it once before, on March 3, 2012, and Stephon Marbury did it twice and Pooh Richardson once. Rubio's 14 assists on the night were a season high and tied an NBA career high.
What's been even more impressive, considering Rubio's relative strengths, has been his shooting recently. He had 15 points against Portland on 44.4 percent shooting; he's had more points only eight times, and that's the third-best shooting percentage of his season.
Rubio said Tuesday that he's feeling pretty good about his shot and that his legs are finally getting into it, thus improving his mechanics. Earlier in the season, he'd struggled to get his legs into his shot, which was often flat and off-target.
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