Simons Says - Dec. 20, 2012

These is little doubt. As games go, there’s no question about how big the game is between OKC and Minnesota. Certainly, a bigger match-up for the Wolves simply because OKC sits at the top of the conference with just four losses. A win could give a big boost to the Wolves considering the roller coaster the Timberwolves have endured in just the season’s first two months.

In preparation for the nationally televised game and just sifting over notes, I was caught off guard by USA Today’s recent article on the NBA and specifically, its top All-Star selections. The game isn’t until February but it made me stop and think.

In the column, the West and East line-ups were all stocked with the game’s best players. The West has a starting line-up of OKC’s Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook, Spur Tim Duncan, LAC’s CP-3 and Memphis’ Zack Randolph. OK, all well deserving and all having superb seasons to date. As I scrolled through the reserves is when my eye started twitching a bit. NO Wolves to be found. No K-Love. No Ricky.

I do get it. A lot of injuries and games missed will spell out that sort of result. You see some of the names and you can only think of how different the roster might look if injuries wouldn’t have taken such a toll on the Wolves. From Blake Griffin to Marc Gasol, James Harden to Kobe and then David Lee from Golden State, Tony Parker, even Serge Ibaka of OKC.

What’s obvious is that Minnesota put together a strong start despite some huge hurdles. Rick Adelman’s doing one of his finest coaching jobs and using a lot of band-aids in the process. Each and every night, the bumps and bruises and pains of the tough NBA take its toll on his team. In my mind, the fact that Adelman has the Wolves on the right side of .500 is impressive. To date, Adelman still hasn’t had his entire roster intact for one night.

The Wolves are enjoying the spotlight that comes with playing the defending Western Conference champions. They haven’t forgotten March 23 earlier this year, when without Rubio, OKC and the Wolves played to a 149-140 2OT thriller in Oklahoma. So many records from that game. The teams combined for 289 points, K-Love’s 51, the combined field goals made at 109. That performance was more impressive because of how the Wolves got after it without Rubio, who’d been lost just weeks before in a game against the Lakers.

At a recent GameON! taping, a Wolves fan asked me, “Why are you so optimistic about the team? They haven’t got on a winning run, they can’t keep players on the court and healthy. It’s not looking good.” Jeff was his name and I guess, if you just deal with his thoughts today, he might have a few points. But as sturdy as they might seem, I see wiggle room.

This isn’t going to last. And I’m not concerned of where the team has been under other players and coaches. I see upside at 12-11 as the Wolves are slowly restocking the roster with the healthy hoopsters. When Kevin Love works his way back from the bad hand, when Rubio’s gears are all a-go, when the little nick’s that others are experiencing heal, they will be a big step closer. As for the winning run, it might not happen until these guys, not only get back on the court but get use to playing night in and out with one another.

I’m in with patience. I like the 27 a night that the game’s best shooter drops for OKC and when you see what Durant and fellow Olympian Westbrook do nightly, you can only see good things for Love and Rubio. Those two hooper’s are heating it up with nearly 50 a night combined. That will win a few ballgames. No wonder OKC has won 12 straight games (that team’s record set back in Seattle when the Sonics went to the NBA Finals in 1996).

Regardless of the outcome in this first match-up of the season, regardless of what the most negative rube to be found might say, I contend that these two teams, OKC and Minnesota, match up. They’ll play many more meaningful games as the Wolves heal and begin to assert themselves in the West. If Chase Budinger was still on the court and not recovering from knee surgery, I’d be even more excited. Seeing the Wolves run and play well against Denver the other night lends support to the “upside” argument. The Wolves losses on those down night’s certainly are cause for concern but the missing roster pieces, those injured players, only serve as a reminder.

When we look at the other side of the court, when you see that lanky 7-footer in blue and his No. 0 wearing sidekick, allow yourself to drift and dream. It’s coming together and a rivalry is shaping up.

Our All-Star stock might be thin as we speak. That’s alright. The struggle might be mighty on some nights. Again, OK by me. But the winning run is a comin’. April rescheduling around playoff basketball is going to be a necessity.

As I’ve said from day one of the season, this is a long season and you gotta’ have a little hope. Whether it’s around games or real life concerns and woes, a little hope does wonders. It’s too easy (as evident by how many people choose this path) to gripe and complain. The Wolves are working to get it turned around. I see them on their way. Another step with the Thunder in view. And I’m one that’s wishing that it rings true. That a little hope goes a long way.

See you next between Christmas and New Year’s. Happy Holidays and the merriest of Season’s greetings to you all!

Coats! Coats! Coats!

Just delivered and in time for the brutal cold, the Kevin Love coat drive ended its successful run to help those in need this winter. It was inspiring to see all those coats, more than a thousand, be delivered for distribution to those who desperately need them. I’m told that if you missed the drop and still want to donate, you can do it. If you’d like to get your donation in, the Salvation Army will still take the coats. Get to them via their website

Remember, the goal is to make sure no one goes cold. Let’s help out!

It’s here…NOT too late for Holiday Hoops!

The Wolves & Lynx Basketball Academy is hosting 8-basketball clinics over the holidays. The clinics will occur around the metro area during the holiday season in Chanhassen, Eagan, Lakeville, Maple Grove, Minnetonka, Prior Lake/Savage, St. Louis Park and Wayzata from December 27-28. The clinics are for boys and girls ages 7 to 14, and aim to teach young basketball players the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling and defense. Each participant receives a Timberwolves T-shirt, as well as instruction from Timberwolves staff members. Attendees are asked to bring a lunch and their own basketball to the clinic. To register for any clinic, go to For additional questions, contact Pat Freeman at (612) 673-1206 or

We’re all on MY29!

You know that GameON! is on FOX’s MY29! The Wolves offer a franchise-record 78 regular-season games televised locally, including 50 on Fox Sports North and 25 on the Wolves' exclusive over-the-air broadcast home, WFTC My29. For the second consecutive season, every Wolves regular season contest will be carried live on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM.

See you on TV

Catch your Wolves on this Sunday’s GameON! this week!! You don’t want to miss the Emmy nominated GameON! this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 at 10:30 a.m. Our special pre-Christmas show comes from our new home, across the street from Target Center at Kieran’s Irish Pub with Vikings middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, local writer Jim Bruton, Kieran’s founder Kieran Foliar & GameON! Fantasy fb guru Jeremy Johnson. All GameON! shows are broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online @

GameON! allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly tapings at Kieran’s Irish Pub and its sister locations. GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). You can friend us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, GameON! is also seen in North and South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays at

Keep your GameON! See you soon!

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