Ricky Rubio felt like a basketball player again 380 days later. The Catalan point guard returned last morning in the NBA with a hopeful performance more than a year later, showing that he has left behind his delicate injury to the cruciate ligament in his left knee. He contributed nine points in just ten minutes in which he participated, thus contributing to the exciting victory of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Portland Trail Blazers at home (119-113).
In addition to his contribution in points (with two of four in triples), during his time on the court he grabbed three rebounds and provided an assist on the court at the Moda Center in Portland, leaving details of class and confidence in his first game since the serious injury suffered on December 28, 2021 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
His last game dated from December 28, 2021
Coach JB Bickerstaff, who had reported that the return of the El Masnou point guard would be gradual, gave him way in sections of the first, second and third periods, while he left him on the bench in the fourth segment, to avoid forcing. And it is that the Cavaliers sealed a great victory in the fourth of their five games away from Cleveland, but to do so they needed a tremendous physical and mental effort against Damian Lillard’s 50 points.
The Blazers leader hit five 3-pointers and was a constant threat to the Cavs, but a great group performance by the Cavs, with four players over 17 points, rewarded the visitors. Donovan Mitchell scored 26, Jarrett Allen had a double double of 24 points and ten rebounds, Darius Garland had another twenty points and ten assists, and Evan Mobley had 17.
There were 3:38 minutes remaining in the first quarter when JB Bickerstaff called out Rubio and led him onto the court. The Spaniard entered with 20-25 in the light and provided electricity from the first moment.
Only some tremendous blocks suffered by Evan Mobley and Lamar Stevens prevented him from connecting his first assist after a few seconds. His first point came from the free throw line in the first quarter and, already in the second period and with the Blazers ahead 46-33, he supported two points on the board with a good tackle. His minutes were carefully managed, but Rubio competed with ease and without fear of contacts.
50 Damian Lillard Points
The Cavaliers managed to return to the locker room seven points behind (58-51), almost a victory considered Lillard’s amazing first half, with 25 points and pure class plays. The ‘0’ of the Blazers, who averages 27 points per game this season, already touched thirty with 9.16 to play in the third period, when he connected the fourth triple of his night for 68-61.
The Cavaliers did not lose lucidity and had the merit of staying mentally in the game. And it was Rubio, with two consecutive triples from the corners, to get on the scoreboard at 70-74 and 77-82. The Blazers’ attack was a Lillard monologue, with another ten points in the third quarter, but Mitchell, with two straight three-pointers, brought the Cavs within 85-87.
The Cavs were growing and doing damage from triple. It was Okoro, from the arc, who restored equality at 97-97 and Mitchell, with a new basket of three, gave the first advantage of the night to the visitors (105-104). The Cavs did not stop stepping on the accelerator, who with an aggressive defense and six points in a row, forced the timeout of Chauncey Billups at 119-115 with less than ninety minutes to play.
The Blazers could not get up, who succumbed to some Cavs who boasted of character and who added to their engine the talent of a Rubio who gave away class details and injections of confidence.