Any time you’re out for a couple of weeks, I think you can anticipate someone having to get their timing back, certainly their wind back. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder, on Ricky Rubio
SALT LAKE CITY — A lot of eyes were on Ricky Rubio at Friday night’s game, curious to see how he’d perform after missing his last three games before the All-Star break because of a hip injury. Would we see the remarkable Rubio of late-January/early February or the mediocre early-season Rubio?
Turns out it was the latter as Rubio struggled in his first game back and didn’t come close to matching his numbers in the month before he was injured.
Rubio, who had been averaging 20 points and eight assists over his last 10 games, could only manage four points on 2-of-6 shooting while committing three turnovers with just two assists in 19 minutes in Utah's 19-point loss to Portland.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder wouldn’t say Rubio wasn’t 100 percent but did say “he wouldn’t have played if he were in harm’s way.” Snyder acknowledged it takes players some time to get back to normal after not playing for over two weeks.
“Any time you’re out for a couple of weeks, I think you can anticipate someone having to get their timing back, certainly their wind back,” Snyder said. “It’s good to have him back. It took him a little bit in the first quarter to kind of find it, and he came back in the second half and he played well.”
Snyder may have been overly nice with his last statement, but even if Rubio did struggle, he certainly wasn’t the reason for the Jazz loss Friday.
The Jazz only shot 42 percent — 24 percent from 3-point range — and committed 20 turnovers, just the fifth time this season they had that many TOs. Only Donovan Mitchell was a scoring threat with 21 points, but he went 1 for 7 in the fourth quarter.
Before the game, Snyder had said Rubio would have “minutes restriction” and added, “our medical guys will watch him move and see how he is doing.”
Rubio said, “Being out for a couple weeks, I couldn’t do much, so it’s going to be hard for that, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job to stay in shape. When you have a good momentum like that, it’s hard to know when to go out there and be aggressive, but I think I just have to be me.”
The Spaniard got the start and immediately showed some rust when his short try from the left side went completely over the rim, hitting the glass on the other side. He sank his first basket with a 12-foot jumper from the left angle midway through the second quarter and finished the half with three rebounds, but no assists and two of Utah’s 11 first-half turnovers.
His second basket came early in the fourth quarter on a short runner on the baseline, but that was his only other score and he sat out most of the quarter as the Blazers’ lead kept building.
“It was good to have him out there again,” Jonas Jerebko said of Rubio. “But it’s a team effort and we’ve got to be better, We’ve got to play with more force, take care of the ball, make shots and make stops on defense. Let’s do it tomorrow.”