Shootaround Access: Rubio's Passing, Shooting A Concern For Spurs

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves rookie guard Ricky Rubio is about as unpredictable as they come with a basketball in his hand, but his tendencies as a passer might be coming clearer to his teammates.

The key? Expect the unexpected. Just ask forward Anthony Tolliver.

"I told him, I said I knew I'm getting used to playing with you when I actually expected him to bounce pass it through Dirk (Nowitzki's) legs to me in the corner," said Tolliver, describing his late 3-pointer that helped ice a 99-82 win over Dallas on Sunday. "That's why I was so ready for the shot, and he made it perfectly."

Rubio is showing strides in his game each time he steps on the court, and it's something teams around the league are noticing. With San Antonio in town for a 7 p.m. tipoff tonight at Target Center, the Spurs are preparing for the unexpected each time Rubio touches the ball.

Through four games this year, Rubio is averaging 7.3 assists per game, and his confidence as a shooter is becoming a factor in how teams prepare for him. He shot 4-for-8 last night against Dallas, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range, and finished with 14 points and seven assists.

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said he's one of those players who is gifted with the ball.

"He has so much control of the ball," Ginobili said. "He can see the court so well. He plays like that. That's something we knew was going to happen. He might have other weaknesses and strengths, but he has great poise and he's very talented passing the ball and dribbling."

Tolliver said it's something the Wolves noticed from Day 1, and over time they've become accustom to when Rubio will be making a play. His no-look alley-oops and fast-paced bounce passes are quickly becoming a staple of play at Target Center.

Now, he's adding the element of taking his own shot.

"You have to know where that pass can be the best one," Rubio said after last night's game. "Sometimes it is through the legs, sometimes it's over his head or sometimes you have to shoot."

Ginobili said it reminds him of the Mavericks' play last year, when current Wolves guard JJ Barea was on the court. He said Dallas would have five shooters on the floor at once, making it tough to defend who would end up taking the shot.

"But Ricky of course is very sharp in finding whoever is open," Ginobili said.

Tolliver proved that last night.

"Hit me right in the hands," Tolliver said. "And I was ready to catch and shoot."

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