Since Ricky Rubio entered the starting lineup, the Timberwolves are 7-4 compared to just 3-7 with Rubio coming off the bench. Much of the Timberwolves' success lately is due to Rubio's superb play down the stretch of games.
Rubio was nearly flawless in the second half of the win over the Rockets on Monday, totaling seven assists and just one turnover while shooting 4-of-6 from the field. For the game, Rubio had 18 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and three turnovers while shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range. It was perhaps Rubio's most complete game of the season.
In the second half of the last three games, Rubio has 18 assists and just one turnover. In those three games, the Timberwolves are +26 in the second half, including +14 in the second half of Monday's win.
In fact, it's the fourth time that Rubio has totaled at least seven rebounds and eight assists in a game, and the Timberwolves are now 4-0 in those games. Rubio has 10 double-digit assist games this season, which leads the NBA.
But the fourth quarter has been where Rubio has been at his best.
Rubio leads the NBA in fourth-quarter assists with 46. By comparison, the next-highest is Derrick Rose with 36. Over his last three games, Rubio has seven assists and zero turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves are 2-1 in those games with a five-point loss to the Lakers sandwiched in between two wins.
During a three-game winning streak from January 16-20, Rubio had seven assists and two turnovers while the Timberwolves were a combined +33 in those fourth quarters. Rubio had 12 assists and five turnovers while his team was +45 in the second halves of those games.
Rubio is +38 in the fourth quarter this season, which ranks third in the NBA among point guards behind Derrick Rose and Jrue Holiday.
Rubio's shooting has drastically improved in the fourth quarter as compared to the first three quarters. He's shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 46.7 percent on 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter, but is shooting just 36.3 percent from the field and 30.3 percent on 3-point attempts in the first three quarters.
With Rubio's improved play since entering the starting lineup, especially late in games, the Timberwolves have exploded offensively. They've scored more than 100 points in four of their last seven games and are averaging 100.6 points in those seven games after scoring more than 100 only once in their previous nine games.