Simons Says - Dec. 27, 2012
Cheers to you as the holidays and the year that was 2012 move to a conclusion. It’s been nice to embrace time with family and friends during the bit of a break we’re enjoying. We’re hoping your time has been special as well.
There certainly has been plenty of basketball on which to keep an eye peeled during this festive time. All those games on Christmas day served as sprinkles on the cake for this hoopaholic. Did I get through one game, tip to final tick-tock? Nope. Did I peek in and see KG nearly lose his shorts? Yes. Did I see the furious fourth in the Finals rematch? You betcha. Did I catch and like all the “Made for TV” uniforms sported by all the teams? I did and I didn’t, to a point. I liked the Brooklyn black & white unis but didn’t care for the Bulls, Rockets, Knicks, LAL, Clips or Nugget uniforms. Nicely done though NBA. A pretty good buzz was kicked up in twitter land and we couldn’t resist the mention. Left me wondering what the Wolves might have looked like had they played on Christmas Day (#always next year).
The taste that’s in the mouths of most of you checking in to this blog has to be from the loss at the hands of Houston. A game the Wolves will put in the “we should have won this one” category. Since I don’t do the texting thing while driving, my phone was buzzin’ with thoughts and “insight” after the “L.” I want to share some of those but first, just a reminder of where we are. If we’re being fair, it’s been a week with some good things happening. Growth, you might say.
First of all, remember that the Wolves dispatched the reigning Western Conference champions on national TV just a week ago. Leading start to finish, never trailing, it was a gem and one the coaches will use to remind these young Wolves of what they can do. Or what they can do when they protect the ball. When they hit shots. When they play with purpose for 48 minutes. When they play instead of bicker and complain on the court.
I said it a week ago and I stand by it. That game, as it goes, was as big a game for Minnesota and, in all fairness, much more important for the Wolves because what they need to accomplish. And yes, a win does give a boost to the Wolves considering the roller coaster the Timberwolves have endured in just the season’s first two months. It’s not something they can stop the presses with. TOO much ball left to play and after watching the Houston loss, too much work still left to do.
With their star players returning to the court and getting back in place, the Wolves are quickly getting top billing and for good reason. Block E was hoppin’ with an announced crowd of 20,340 in for the game. Wolves PR tells me that was the third-largest crowd in Target Center history and the second sellout of the season. The Wolves sold just under 1,000 standing-room-only tickets to tonight's game.
Too bad the fans couldn’t have gotten more than a lump of coal for the outing, but again, patience right?! Considering Minnesota is adjusting on the court with its players and shot only 38% (25% with 7-for-28 from the land of “3”), there were highlights:
- Houston’s been a scoring machine this season and leads the NBA with 106 points a night. The Wolves “D” held Houston to 87 points. Easy with the snide comebacks because I CAN hear you.
- The guard position is getting crowded with the emergence of Wolves rookie Alexey Shved. Starting for the 7th time this season, Shevd scored 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting and really made a strong contribution. He tough defensive assignments and made some nice passes. It’s clear, watching Shevd and fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko on the court at the same time, those two have a sweet chemistry and know where the other is at all times. That will pay off down the road this season. Bookmark it.
- It’s not a dunk or a highlight reel thing but the Wolves are doing the dirty work again. The Wolves entered the Houston game leading the NBA in defensive rebound percentage (75.7%) then went out and limited the Rockets to just seven offensive rebounds tonight. It’s an important stat because, as my friends in Wolves PR will tell you, excel at this work and the payoff is continued play after the 82 game season has wrapped. In short, last season 11 of the top-12 teams in defensive rebound percentage made the postseason.
That’s all fine and good my buddy Hoops was telling me late last night on the phone but he had another things on his mind after watching both the OKC and Houston games from Target Center. With that introduction, a few questions and comments and thoughts and rube conversation aimed at me:
Hoops asks “Is it me or do I see JJ (Barea) and Klove (Kevin Love) sniping at each other on the court? Hoops, did you ever play in a game, pick-up or otherwise?! As I’ve tried to lay out in plain X’s and O’s, these guys are all coming together after a rash or injuries. They are playing hard and with a pass that doesn’t connect or a shot that doesn’t fall, yes, there will be some heat of the moment reactions. The players scoff at questions like that. I know, in talking to both, they all want to get in synch now not later. This isn’t chess.
Our GameON! Guru (@GameOnGuru) was in the house for the Rockets and hit me with this ”I'm wondering what to expect of Brandon Roy once he returns. With the emergence of Alexey Shved do you see Roy as a 10-15 minute guy off of the bench?” A great question and this clearly depends on B-Roy’s knees. Can those knees handle the wear and tear? Plain and simple, Roy can still play but his legs haven’t been on board. Yet. Roy has shown flashes this season of the player he was. Roy is a valuable player if he can make even small contributions. We can only hope.
>From Willie in Forest Lake: “I thought the crowd was very nice to (Houston Coach) Kevin McHale in pre-game announcements. Did you?” Willie, nice note and good catch. Yes, I did. It’s been a tough year for the former Celtics great and Wolves leader. Listen, I can’t EVEN imagine the pain he suffers every day not hearing the voice of his little girl who died recently after battling Lupus. McHale is a good man and his Timberwolves family loves him much. It was nice to see owner Glen Taylor go over to give McHale some solace and a bear hug before the game. Life’s too short. I can’t imagine a day not hearing the voice of my little Annie. To know how the McHale’s have been hit by the loss of their beloved Sasha breaks my heart. So yes, good work all of you who went to the game and gave some love to McHale. Well done.
>From Gina in St. Michael: “Thanks for getting Wolves players on your GameON! show. I enjoy seeing that side of them very much. Just wondering what you think. Which point guard is going to be the one to close out games (as my husband calls it)? How long before Rubio is closing out games? I personally like the Rubio, JJ, Shved, Love and AK lineup the best. And Rubio is cute.”
Gina, thanks for the nice note and thanks for watching too! Coach Adelman might not even know yet but I’m sure Rubio is the one they have penciled in to close games. Right now, coaches are trying to get them all up to speed, trying to determine good combinations and each night presents different match-up problems. In my mind there won’t be a “set” combination for a while. You’ll see Love and AK-47 most likely. Rubio when he gets up to it. Shevd is making a case. JJ has been strong of late. Let’s give this a little more time. And by the way, my wife and 7-year old Annie feel the same way as you regarding Rubio. I’m chopped liver in my own house. Nice.
At a recent GameON! taping, a Wolves fan asked me, “Have you seen the January schedule for these guys? Geez, it ain’t gonna’ be easy.” Easy? Never is. But he was right. As we get into 2013, the Wolves will have 4 nights with back to back games in January. Three of those will be on the road and in addition to that challenge, the Wolves will get the suddenly formidable Clippers and Atlanta twice in the month. And since we’re getting ahead of ourselves, February won’t be a cake walk either. Minnesota will muskie up against Memphis, the Knicks, OKC, Golden State, the Spurs and the Lakers twice. Yep, won’t be easy.
See you soon and thanks for a great 2012! 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 www.salvationarmynorth.org.
Remember, the goal is to make sure no one goes cold. Let’s help out!
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 end of 2012 show originates from our new home, across the street from Target Center at Kieran’s Irish Pub with the best of the past year, from the Wolves to the Vikings and all sports and entertainment in between. 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 at www.gameontvmn.com.
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, Rod@GameOnTvMn.com. GameON! is also seen in North & 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 Timberwolves.com.
Keep your GameON! See you soon!