Ricky Rubio has a monster game for the Timberwolves, is called ‘Italian’ by Shaquille O’Neal (Video)

Ball Don't Lie

The Minnesota Timberwolves are rolling. Sure, they missed out on sweeping both Los Angeles teams earlier this week because Kevin Love’s put-back attempt wouldn’t roll in, but in spite of that miss Rick Adelman’s squad is 6-3, and Love is correct to point out that this is the best team he’s had the pleasure to have known since coming to Minnesota in 2008.

Love is having a ridiculous season, but point guard Ricky Rubio appears to be stuck in the same shooting groove that has plagued him for years, dating back to his work overseas. Ricky entered Wednesday night’s game against Cleveland shooting just 31.9 percent, a miserable mark that did nothing to shake the frustrated belief that Rubio’s poor marks from the field could prevent the Wolves from going over the top.

Against the Cavaliers, though, Rubio’s shoulders were squared, and his aim was true. The third-year point guard shot 5-7 from the field on the way to 16 points and 16 assists, as the Timberwolves rolled to a 124-95 win that left Cleveland coach Mike Brown noticeably exasperated. Watch the highlights:

The outing raised his shooting percentage to 35.4. Still terrible, but also enough to taunt you with the thought of what could be if Ricky paired his fantastic passing and superb defense with a reliable touch from the perimeter and interior.

Here is the full breakdown of Minnesota’s blowout win:

Make no mistake, Kevin Love is still the stud here. He’s basically putting up ABA numbers at this point, despite this being a slow-down league (at least in comparison to the ABA) that knows how to play defense. Fully healthy, Kevin is averaging 27.1 points and 14.2 rebounds alongside five assists per contest. On top of that, the addition of a healthy Kevin Love (alongside Nikola Pekovic) and Corey Brewer alongside Rubio’s quick hands has the Wolves ranked sixth in defensive efficiency. That might get lost in the box score equation, due to the Timberwolves ranking fourth in possessions per game.

Then there’s this little nugget, from last night’s game:

Even with Love’s brilliance, the big takeaway from Wednesday was Rubio’s potential as a sound scorer and shooter. Those 16 assists were nice, but it was that touch on the inside and his confidence on the outside that tantalized. It’s not enough to get Shaquille O’Neal to do his homework …

(He’s done this before, by the way.)

… but for a chilly midseason Wednesday in Minnesota, it was fantastic to watch.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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