The biggest thing you can say about Ricky is that he competes. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s something Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook does on a regular basis, 100 times in his career, but it had been more than a decade since any Utah Jazz player had recorded a triple-double, the longest drought among the NBA’s 30 teams.
In breaking that drought, Ricky Rubio couldn’t have picked a better time to accomplish the feat in leading the Jazz to a 115-102 victory over the Thunder and giving them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Throughout his career, Rubio has been known for being Good Rubio and Bad Rubio. On this night, he was Very Good Rubio in finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in becoming the first Jazzman with a triple-double since Carlos Boozer in February of 2008 and the third player in Jazz playoff history to accomplish the feat.
Rubio was at his best in bringing the Jazz back from a double-digit deficit midway through the second quarter when he scored 14 points in just a three-and-a-half-minute span to put the Jazz up by five at halftime.
Rubio’s run started with a 12-footer in the lane at the 6:02 mark to bring the Jazz within five at 45-40. He made a pair of free throws a minute later and, after a Derrick Favors free throw, he hit back-to-back 15-foot floaters in the lane to pull the Jazz to a 47-47 tie. At the 3:03 mark, he hit a 3-pointer from up top and, next time down, he faked Patrick Patterson into a foul and sank all three free throws, despite the Vivint Arena crowd chanting RU-BEE-OH, RU-BEE-OH.
After that, Rubio got a little too happy and missed consecutive 3-pointers before the end of the half.
In the second half, Rubio didn’t score at all in the third quarter, missing three shots, until the final second when, after a missed Joe Ingles 3-pointer, he took a pass from on the run and lofted a shot that settled in just after the buzzer sounded.
Then the RU-BEE-OH chants started again as the Jazz took an 89-75 lead into the fourth quarter. Rubio picked up his 10th rebound early in the quarter and made assist No. 10 on a pass to Rudy Gobert at the 5:53 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Jazz up 103-86.
Afterward, Jazz coach Quin Snyder praised Rubio’s effort, saying “he had a heck of a game, one of the big reasons we were able to win the game,” but quickly tempered it with a criticism of Rubio leaving Raymond Felton open in the corner for 3-pointers.
“The biggest thing you can say about Ricky is that he competes,” Snyder said.
Rubio finished with 9 of 18 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line.
Rubio had started the series with a poor first game when he shot 5 of 18 from the field but came back to score 22 in the second game when he hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range.