HOUSTON – Yes, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman confirmed it before Thursday night's game at Houston: That indeed was a floater point guard Ricky Rubio lofted over a Dallas defender during a Wednesday performance when he delivered his third career triple-double with a 22-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound night.
So did Rubio himself.
"Yeah, it was," he said. "It was."
Rubio has struggled to score around the basket all season, but he attacked aggressively from the beginning of Wednesday's 123-122 overtime victory over the Mavericks. Included in his repertoire was that a seldom-seen running floater used to counter approaching shot blockers.
"He definitely has to develop that shot," Adelman said. "He has to learn how to get shots off when he gets into that area because when their big guys are there, he has to get over them. [San Antonio point guard] Tony Parker developed that shot and it makes him so difficult to guard. We've worked on that with him, but it's got to come in the games. It's got to translate into the games."
Rubio said he has studied Parker's shot, and he is working on his own.
"It's something I want to add to my game," Rubio said. "But I want to work on a lot of things. It's something that's going to help me finish better when there are shot blockers. I want to work on every single aspect of my game, so sometimes it's hard to do everything at once. I'm just adding piece by piece.
"Tony Parker has one of the best. There are a lot of players who use it, and I want to add it to my game."
An even swap?
Both the Wolves and the Rockets played without their big men Wednesday: Wolves starting center Nikola Pekovic missed his third consecutive game because of that hurting ankle that has bothered him since January.
Rockets All-Star Dwight Howard missed his second consecutive game after he had part of a cyst and fluid removed from his ankle.
Rookie Gorgui Dieng started his third consecutive game for the Wolves and Omer Asik started for the Rockets.
When asked if Pekovic for Howard is a fair trade-off, Adelman said, "I don't know about Dwight. I know Pek hurts us. I'm sure he [Howard] hurts them, too."
Step right up
With Pekovic out again, Dieng provided his third consecutive double-double on Thursday, this time when he had 14 points and 10 rebounds by halftime.
"Dieng's been filling in, blocking some shots, which they didn't have with Pekovic and Love," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said before the game. "So I guess you give up one thing, you get another thing."
While speaking about Wolves star Kevin Love's freakish outlet passing ability, McHale was asked what kind of quarterback Love might have been had his parents allowed him to play football.
"I don't know," said McHale, who acquired Love's rights on draft night 2008. "He would have been able to throw it down the field,
''I'm assuming from watching him play. He'd be like Daryle Lamonica, just throw the bomb every third time. No one here knows who Daryle Lamonica is."
Just to prove McHale wrong, somebody then mentioned the name of Fred Biletnikoff, Lamonica's favorite target when the Oakland Raiders quarterback played in the AFL and NFL in the 1960s and 70s.