Bucks lose pre-season opener to Timberwolves, 117-96

MILWAUKEE -- Ricky Rubio wowed an eager crowd with some slick passing in his NBA debut and Kevin Love had 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 117-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their preseason opener on Saturday night.

Rubio had six points, seven assists and six rebounds in 23 minutes, eliciting chants of "Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!" in the fourth quarter in homage to his Spanish roots. Michael Beasley scored 21 points and No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams had 14 points for Minnesota in coach Rick Adelman's debut.

Mike Dunleavy had 16 points and five assists and rookie Jon Leuer had 18 points and five rebounds for the Bucks. Andrew Bogut had nine points and six boards.
The Timberwolves made 15 of 24 3-pointers and looked pretty sharp offensively given that they've only been practicing Adelman's new motion offense for about a week due to the NBA's lockout.
Love, who made the All-Star team last season despite the Wolves having the second-worst record in the NBA, was 4 for 7 from long range and Williams was 3 for 4.

Adelman wanted Rubio to ease into his NBA debut in an effort to keep him comfortable and to manage the high expectations from a home crowd that has been waiting for two years to see the floppy-haired, slick-passing Spaniard in a Timberwolves uniform.

More than 15,000 attended the game, the most for a Wolves home preseason game since 2004-05, the year after Kevin Garnett and Co. made the Western Conference finals. Most of them were there to see Rubio, the fifth overall pick in 2009 who stayed in Spain for the past two seasons to work on his game and reduce the size of his contract buyout.

Adelman started the veteran Luke Ridnour at point guard, and it wasn't until the 4:22 mark of the first quarter that Rubio checked in.

As soon as he got up from the bench to trot to the scorer's table, the crowd gave a loud cheer. He received a standing ovation when he entered the game and was cheered every time he so much as touched the ball in the early going.

His impact was felt right away, with two points, two assists and a board in the first four minutes. He threw a couple of behind-the-back passes, had a no-look dish here and there and didn't give up a whole lot defensively despite playing in a small backcourt with newcomer J.J. Barea for most of the night.

The biggest highlight of the night came on a fast break in the fourth quarter, when Rubio zipped a bounce pass through Leuer's legs to Barea for an easy layup, prompting chants of "Ru-bi-o! Ru-bi-o!" from an adoring crowd.

Moments later, his no-look alley-oop to Williams sent a charge through the crowd again.

Bucks fans were almost as eager to see Bogut back in the starting lineup and hope to have him for a full season for the first time since he was a rookie in 2005-06. Bogut had arthroscopic surgery on his bothersome right elbow in the off-season after playing in 65 games last year, and he remains the key for the Bucks' hopes in a tougher Eastern Conference this season.