Wessel: Terry Porter's decision leaves Ricky Rubio upset after loss
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves managed to make it through their 91-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at Target Center without anybody getting injured.
That was a huge silver-lining considering how things have gone for the Wolves this season, but that doesn't mean there wasn't controversy.
In a storyline that is completely fitting with how things have gone this season, point guard Ricky Rubio was ticked off at acting coach Terry Porter after Wednesday's defeat.
Rubio was waiting at the scorer's table to check in when J.J. Barea hit a three-pointer to cut the Wolves' deficit to five points with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game. The Nets called timeout and by the time play had resumed, Porter called Rubio back to the bench and left Barea on the floor.
"I don't know," Rubio said when asked about not getting back in the game.
When pressed, and asked if he was upset, Rubio opened up a bit.
"Yeah (I am upset), but it is what it is," he said. "(Porter) preferred to play the players we were playing. I don't know what to say."
Porter said after the game that he stuck with Barea because he thought he had a hot hand and wanted to see how it played out.
"I want to know what happened. (Porter and I) are going to talk," Rubio said.
This was quite the departure from Rubio's standard happy-go-lucky disposition. This was the most upset Rubio has appeared during his time in Minnesota.
Rubio was by no means having a career night.
He finished with five points, six assists and four turnovers in 24 minutes.
But Porter's decision to stick with Barea was questionable at best. Some might say it was downright odd. He scored 11 points off the bench, but wasn't very efficient. Barea had taken a shot to the thigh and appeared injured moments before the timeout.
There is good Barea and there is bad Barea; the fourth quarter was definitely bad Barea.
This now appears to be a team that misses its head coach. The Wolves are 2-9 since Rick Adelman has been away attending to his wife, who has been hospitalized. Nobody can tell someone how they should handle a family situation, and that isn't being done here. But Adelman's absence is clearly affecting the Wolves on the court, whether they want to admit or not.
That much is obvious.
The one positive that could come from this is that Rubio uses this perceived embarrassment as motivation. Rubio should take a page from teammate Kevin Love's playbook and use this as a way to improve himself.
Rubio has struggled through 14 games since returning from knee surgery and has dealt with back spasms. He has displayed flashes of being the Rubio fans saw last season before he suffered torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee in March, but those flashes have been few and far between.
As questionable as Porter's move to keep Barea in the game might have been, Rubio definitely could have done more with his 24 minutes to warrant being put back out there.
The Wolves now sit at 17-22 and are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference playoff picture.
Things just keep spiraling further out of control for a second consecutive season. If the Wolves are going to have any chance of getting back on track, Rubio returning to the form that made him a star last season is crucial.
And maybe Porter's decision Wednesday will prove to be just the motivation he needed.