Simons Says - Feb. 13, 2014

Now for a well deserved breather.

The All Star break has arrived for the Wolves and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As the NBA’s eyes shift to the Bayou for its annual celebration of stars, the Wolves slow, heading to warmer climes and mending even a little more.

Two things on my mind. The roller coaster and then what’s ahead when the fellas get back to work, together, in a week.

The game that got ‘em into the All Star dismissal was a sweet one indeed. Denver was flat, in the process of extending its losing streak from three to four games and they too were thin with injured Nuggets everywhere. But, no excuses and a heck of a game for Minnesota. When you (Wolves) start the game with a 17-3 run, you’d hope to be able to hold on and they did. Impressively. Minnesota racked up 31 in the first and 61 at the intermission while giving All Star Kevin Love a lotta’ help.

What haven’t we said about K-Love? Adjectives are lacking at this point because he’s doing all he can on both ends of the court. Against the less-than-Golden Nuggets, Love with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Thanks to Wolves PR for this one and I was stunned. K-Love is still missing his first career triple-double. A double-double, he’s aced that test as he leads the NBA in the department. His numbers drew a league-leading 44th double-double and if you caught the game, Love was laser from beyond the arc shooting 6-for-11 from three-point range.

I mentioned help. Love got it and how about Ricky Rubio. We talked about that strong first quarter against Denver, Rubio led the charge with 8 points and 5 dishes while ending the night with numbers on the score sheet that read 11 points, 12 assists and a season-high 7-steals, one shy off of his career high (8 at Milwaukee, Apr. 3). For all you Rubio bashers out there, this little tidbit. In the last five games, #9 is scoring nearly 15 points, 8 assists and a couple of steals per game during.

Mind you, the Wolves are missing Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin. Two of their vital starters. But the Wolves showed depth, energy and character against the Nuggets. Fact is, this team could have laid down but didn’t. Without Pek and K-Mart, Love and Rubio played big again and had big help. Chase Budinger was standout, the truth about Ronny Turiaf is that his work was all lunch pail against Denver. The dirty work with rebounds that extended his double-digit streak to three straight games with 11 rebounds and 4-blocked shots.

There was solid effort from every Wolves player on Rick Adelman’s roster. From starter to sub, they all came to play and put the first half of the season to bed on a high note. How about Corey Brewer’s 22 points and the best shooting night of J.J. Barea’s career! JJ with a solid 8-for-8 and 18 points.

So, for the time being, the roller coaster is at the station and real work begins soon. As it stands, it won’t be easy. The Wolves remain on the outside looking in at the post season, still underwater at 25 wins-28 losses.

That’s 10th in the west some 3 and a half games back of the keys to the playoff party.

As is the case every season, the West is loaded and all 8-playoff teams at this point are above-500. For Minnesota to garner a playoff spot and a placement that doesn’t offer OKC in the first round, the up and down, the rollercoaster win one, lose two, win two, lose three effort will have to go. The Wolves have limited games remaining in which they can run off a 4-game win streak here, a 7-game there. That kind of play. If not, their hopes for an extended season could be in real jeopardy.

A few weeks ago, a GameON! viewer and loyal SimonsSays reader wrote to us. Erick wrote then, “I love your show and want your thoughts. Why not play Shabazz Muhammad? His legs are fresh. He knows the offense. He’s ready”.

Erick, #15 is getting some run! Have you noticed?! And Muhammad is making his time count on the court. We’ve said all along that this PT decision is going to be Coach Adelman’s call and his rotation has allowed new players. The UCLA rookie has responded just as I predicted he would.

I said when you wrote in January that “It could come sooner than later”, it did and Muhammad is no longer a risk on the floor. He fits in spots. He works very hard and he will be needed as March and April roar toward us. Erich, thanks for checking back in and reminding us about “your guy”.

A few weeks before Erich’s note a letter from one of Pek’s biggest fans in Minnesota. Her name, Jannice of MPLS Uptown. We met at one of our GameON! tapings @ Bar Abilene and when Pek went down, so did her world. She wrote then, “I get the nerve to talk basketball with you and Pekovic and then he gets hurt. I have jinxed him!! OMG! I can’t watch again even when he comes back”!

Jannice dropped in after the Nuggets win with a late night thought and said, “Is Pek coming back? We need him and I need to get the weight of this jinx off my shoulder”. Jannice, Pek’s injury is NOT your fault. LOL! Goodness sakes! This is not a breaking news bulletin but you did not play a role in Pek’s injury. As I’ve said time and time again, these injuries happen in the NBA and he’ll be back. I agree with you, they need him and his contribution this year was nearly All Star worthy for sure. Hang on Jannice. Relax; take in a couple of tea bags and flipping through a magazine moments. This will get better soon.

Mister Optimism gets nervous looking at numbers and my abacus shows 53-games down, 28-remaining. I know the players see it but they don’t worry about what’s happening in 14-days. They worry about the next one. That next game. But jeez. 28-left, 3.5 out of just the playoffs?! Things have to start clicking to stay in the playoff chase and if the Denver outing offers any GPS to this stretch ahead, I’ll take it. Hey, thanks for dropping in and if time permits, check out our audio version of SimonsSays PODcast here along the Wolves Entertainment Network! Special ones are fresh for you including a special drop in from Wolves longtime employee and amazing Community/Season ticket man Jeff Munneke talking “old school” with me and the A-train returns to be the worry wart he is over the second half of the season. As always, make it a great week and don’t forget, keep your GameON!


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