In a duel of point guards, the NBA’s reigning MVP Derrick Rose got the best of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ European import Ricky Rubio, as the Chicago Bulls held off a late Wolves rally for 111-100 victory on Tuesday. The main question that lingered around the Timberwolves selecting Rubio as their top pick in 2009 draft was, how would he stand up against the fast guards of the NBA? On Tuesday night, all questions were answered as the Spanish phenom held his own against Rose, putting up 13 points and 12 assists, and made the MVP work for every point scored.
Rose scored a season-high 31 points, on 4-of-8 3-pointers, and 11 assists to outlast Rubio in a showdown at the Target Center. The Bulls jumped out to an early lead, behind Rose’s 14 first-quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting, as they hammered the Wolves with swift defense and overwhelming shooting. As Chicago seemed ready to cruise to victory with their first-half lead reaching as much as 24 points, the rookie Spaniard helped his team rally and staged a furious comeback right before the half. Minnesota ended the second quarter on a 20-2 run, fueled by Rubio’s six assists and on offense. He set Wolves double-double King, Kevin Love, up for three 3-pointers, knocked down a jumper and a free throw and threw a one-handed lob to Anthony Randolph (18 points) that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Rubio harassing defense on Rose, forced the Bulls point guard to have multiple turnovers and prevented him from penetrating the paint, shooting just 1-for-7 with three points in that stretch, as Minnesota cut the deficit to 53-47 at the half.
D.Rose, who injured his big toe after he tumbled with Anthony Tolliver midway through the first half and was given Ibuprofen to numb the pain, erupted in the fourth quarter. Rubio learned just how terrorizing his counterpart can be on the offensive end, as Rose knocked down five of his eight shots and scored 14 of his 31 points in the final period, including his patent tour de force to the basket, followed by his floater in the lane to make it a eight point game before he dropped a dagger 3-pointer in front of Rubio to seal the Bulls victory.
The Bulls outrebounded Minnesota 47-30 and Ronnie Brewer scored 17 points to help Chicago to their eight win in nine games. Luol Deng had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Korver scored 13 points off the bench for the Bulls, who improve to 9-2 on the season.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman may have to insert Rubio into the starting lineup in order for the Timberwolves (3-7) to come out the gate strong. Starters Wesley Johnson, Darko Milicic and Wayne Ellington all played fewer than 10 minutes on Tuesday night, as Adelman went with the high- energy lineup of Rubio, Tolliver and rookie Derrick Williams. Kevin Love finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, but continued his poor shooting as he only made 5 of 18 shots from the field. Despite playing playoff contenders Oklahoma City, Miami and Chicago tough but only to lose in the end, Minnesota is headed in the right direction. Starting Rubio should be step one.