Normally, sitting on the bench with early fouls, Karl-Anthony Towns would be frustrated. Not Monday. Because he got a prime view of something amazing:
His play on a constant crescendo for weeks now, Rubio exploded in Monday’s 119-104 victory over Washington at Target Center. He scored 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting. More impressive, Rubio had a franchise-record 19 assists.
It was a march of dimes that had Towns riveted.
“I’m just glad I was here to watch history, you know?’’ Towns said. “Be a part of it. I don’t know if, in my career, there will be another better time for me to be in foul trouble. I got a front-row seat to watch him throw those dimes. I mean, he almost singlehandedly won us this game tonight.’’
Towns bounced back from those early two fouls to finish with 39 points and 13 rebounds. He had 17 points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter, when the Wolves held off a Wizards charge; after Washington (41-25) had pulled to within five on John Wall’s free throw with 4:22 left Rubio (of course) found Towns at the top of the key. Towns’ three-pointer all but iced the Wolves’ third victory in four games, and fourth straight at home.
But you get Towns’ point.
Rubio had 10 assists and nine points in the first quarter, most of them as Towns watched from the bench, as the Wolves built a lead as big as 21 points. Rubio hit Brandon Rush for two early threes. He fed Nemanja Bjelica for three of his four first-quarter baskets, including a bounce past through two defenders to Bjelica on the break that brought the crowd to its feet. The Wizards entered the game on a five-game winning streak, the last four on the road. But perhaps they were tired, playing their seventh game in 10 nights.
Washington pushed back, but never came all the way back. The Wolves have now closed out consecutive home wins against the L.A. Clippers, the Golden State Warriors and the Wizards. Minnesota (28-38) has gone 6-3 since the All Star break.
Rubio has outplayed point guards Chris Paul (Clippers), Stephen Curry (Warriors) and John Wall (Washington) in the past week. Wall had 27 points but was a minus-20. Bradley Beal had 20 points.
“When you cut and you’re open, you know you’re going to get the ball,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So what it does, guys run the floor hard. They move without the ball.’’
And they score. Andrew Wiggins had 15 points and Gorgui Dieng 10. Bjelica had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Rubio had 10 assists to Towns, three to Bjelica and two each to Rush, Dieng and Wiggins.
Just as a player can get into a zone with his shot, Rubio can get into a zone with his passing.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “Some nights you see things a little different and it gets easier. Tonight in the first quarter I really saw different things out there. I was trying to set the tempo from the beginning and being aggressive.’’
The Wizards noticed.
“It’s easier to get assists when a guy on your team has  points,’’ Wall said. “He’s one of the best passers in the league.’’
The win kept the Wolves in the hunt for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, but time is getting short. The Wolves are three games behind Denver.
“We can’t make any mistakes going forward,’’ Rubio said.