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With Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell out, Ricky Rubio lit a fire for Timberwolves

Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio, Ryan Saunders

The Minnesota Timberwolves finally put an end to their four-game slide on Saturday with a 120-110 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center. After the contest, head coach Ryan Saunders credited his steady veteran Ricky Rubio for making it happen (via The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski).

Even without their two All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, the Timberwolves played terrific basketball on both ends against the Pels. The box score stats may not show it, but it was Ricky Rubio who made all the difference in the pivotal fourth quarter. The Spanish playmaker finished with just nine points, seven rebounds, seven assists and one steal in 28 minutes, but it was his leadership that steered his team to victory.

Saunders was all praises for Rubio for his overall impact even when he was not scoring at a high rate.

Rubio’s brilliant facilitating allowed his Timberwolves teammates to shine, as Naz Reid and Anthony Edwards led the team in scoring with 20 and 18 points, respectively. Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jarett Culver also pitched in 16 points apiece. While the win is indeed a cause for celebration in Minnesota, Rubio understands that there’s still a lot of work to do to improve on their poor 4-11 record (last place in the Western Conference).

Post-match, Rubio aired his desire to have a closed-door meeting with his young team to figure out how to sustain their momentum.

Ricky Rubio is in his second stint in the Twin Cities after getting traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason. Now 30 years old, the Timberwolves guard is no longer the prodigious young star that Minny drafted fifth overall in 2009. Still, Ryan Saunders is extremely happy to have him on board.