BOSTON – Owner of a triple-double, a career-high 19 assist game and a 16.3-point average over the past six games, the Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio has outplayed a parade of point guards that has included Los Angeles Clipper Chris Paul, Golden State's Stephen Curry and Washington's John Wall.
Of course, those aren't the numbers that neither Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau nor Rubio himself claim to care about.
"I mean, right now, all that matters is winning the game,'' said Rubio, whose Wolves are 3-3 in those past six games, 6-4 since the All-Star break and 10-10 in the past 20 games. "I know in this league there is a tough matchup every night, so you can't relax. You don't go against a team thinking I'm going against that guy or the other guy. You just go against the other team thinking about winning and what you want to do for winning."
On Wednesday, Rubio was plagued by foul trouble but still finished with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting and seven assists despite playing only 30 minutes.
He faced another top point guard in Isaiah Thomas, who is averaging 29.2 points a game and a league-best 10.1 in fourth quarters. Thomas finished with 27 points on 8-for-15 shooting.
"There are a lot of guys who have good stats on losing teams," Thibodeau said. "It's meaningless. The important thing is the winning, so the contribution to winning is what is important. You judge your point guard by how the team functions and whether you're winning or losing."
Back in Boston
Thibodeau returned Wednesday to where he was the Celtics' associate head coach for three seasons, won the 2008 NBA title. He watched how coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge freely exchanged ideas.
During his season away from coaching, he returned to Boston to study coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics' expanded analytics department.
"You learn from all those experiences and take the best ideas you're seeing," Thibodeau said.
"There are a lot of good organizations. You steal from everyone."
Picking a winner
Unknowing in all things college basketball, Rubio plans to keep the same method when picking his NCAA tournament bracket.
"I go through the names and pick the one I like the most," he said.
Last year, he was perfect, 16-for-16, on opening day.
"I started out good, but I ended really bad," he said. "I think I got third, so I got my money back, which is good enough."
• When in Boston … somebody asked young Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns if his coach or mentor/former Celtic Kevin Garnett yells more: "Thibs screams a lot, KG screams a lot. I don't know. That's probably an even comparison."
• Wolves rookie Kris Dunn obtained tickets for 20 to 25 family members and friends who came from Connecticut. The former Providence star received a warm New England welcome when he checked in and soon scored.
"I couldn't even tell you the number," he said. "I know a bunch of people are coming."
• Thibodeau is from Connecticut, too, and had 21 people travel for the game.
• Stevens on Towns, meant in a good way: "He has been a joke since he got in the league, in my opinion."
• Wolves TV analyst Jim Petersen is scheduled on the first flight out of Boston to Salt Lake City Thursday morning so he can watch his stepson, Sanjay Lumpkin, play for Northwestern in its first NCAA tournament appearance.