Kevin Love Hits Buzzer-Beater to Sink Clippers, Ricky Rubio Shines in Fourth

Andrew KennedyContributor IJanuary 21, 2012

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kevin Love hit the shot. Ricky Rubio won the game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the road 101-98 on a game-winning three-point field goal by Love as time expired.

It wouldn’t have been the game-winner, if not for Rubio’s clutch play late in the fourth quarter. He missed his first 10 shots in the game before making his first field goal, a three-pointer with 20 seconds left, to tie the game at 98.

Rubio then defended Chauncey Billups flawlessly on the next possession, contesting and maybe getting a piece of the shot as Billups tried to take Rubio off the dribble.

Rubio struggled mightily shooting in the game but did not let it take him out of the game. In the fourth quarter he scored nine points to go along with three assists and two rebounds and zero turnovers. He finished the game with six assists, six rebounds and three steals.

Rubio stole the show in the fourth but the game had some other interesting storylines.

The matchup of Love and Blake Griffin was highly anticipated as it showcased two of the league’s top power forwards.

Love’s game-winner would have him finish with 17 points and 14 rebounds shooting 5-for-16 from the field. 10 of Love’s rebounds came in the second half.


Griffin was also fairly quiet yet still got right around his average with 21 points and 10 rebounds but had five turnovers too.

Down the stretch Los Angeles would go to Griffin on the low block while Love was used mostly in pick-and-roll situations with Rubio as the ball handler.

The Clippers were in control for most of the night with Rubio in foul trouble in the first half and Mo Williams continuing his stellar play of late. Williams made his first seven shots of the game for the second consecutive game and had 21 first half points but was thrown out for arguing a call later in the game.

The Timberwolves kept afloat in this one largely thanks to Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic. They combined for 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the first half.

“All we need is one great quarter from you,” Love told Ric Bucher after the game, speaking of Rubio.

Rubio seems such a sensitive player and was notably embarrassed of his struggles from the field in this one. The support from his teammates and head coach Rick Adelman were loud and clear as Rubio started and played the entire fourth quarter at another level than the first three.

The final play for Minnesota began with a line formation at the top of the key. Derrick Williams cleared out to the corner while Rubio and Wayne Ellington let Love pop to the three-point line and squeezed together for a pick.

DeAndre Jordan was unable to recover quickly enough to get to Love who was a few steps beyond the three-point line when he released the eventual game-winner.

The Timberwolves are now 7-8 on the year and have just beaten the team with the second best record in the West on their own floor. Granted, the Clippers were without Chris Paul, but there is no doubt that the Timberwolves are going to make some serious noise this season.

Follow Andrew Kennedy on Twitter @akennedy41 or read more NBA at his blog True Hoop Drew.