Simons Says - Nov. 15, 2012
You would have thought it was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last night. My social media chums and GameON! watchers were going nuts tweeting that the end was near. That a loss to the lowly Bobcats meant that Christmas needed to be cancelled. All the fretting as the Wolves make-shift lineup struggled, rallied and eventually lost a close game to the improved Charlotte Bobcats.
The Wolves, playing with a staggered line-up AND without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, JJ Barea, The Godfather, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Community man Jeff Munneke and head trainer Gregg Farnam (oops, those last two guys are now back from the injured list) showed just how different this Rick Adelman team is from any in the past 10 years. Yes, 10 years.
When is a loss a win? Perhaps, just perhaps, this game against Charlotte. OK, OK. So it’s not a win but the effort and the ability to quickly mesh into a line-up that works with SO many valuable and important players out shows just how far this team has come. Players coming off the court against the Bobcats will tell you how bummed they were to lose but considering all that was working against them, I flat out credit them for being there in the end. Being in a position to win with so many unfamiliar players juggled together to get it done is tough on any night.
And give some credit to the Wolves front office for, again, trying to get a solution and going out to sign free agent forward Josh Howard to help lift up the team in light of so many injuries.
Howard is a solid “get.” Minnesota is his fourth NBA team, he’s been to the NBA finals with Dallas, a 2007 All-Star, the ACC player of the year in 2003 and most importantly, J-Howard can play!
It’s crazy. All those injuries, in fact, a serious injury in each of four consecutive games and the end result leaving the Wolves with no other option. Some of the injuries are more concerning than others but it’s made the Doctor’s report as much of the daily discussion as Coach Adelman’s Xs and Os at Target Center.
So, the way it looks, the Wolves will get Kevin Love back soon. Rubio will be back around the end of the year, give or take a few weeks. Roy is a question mark. What about those knees? Is there reason to wonder if the pain that is sidelining him is part of this comeback process or is it a sign that it’s not going to work out? Time is going to have to tell and I’m believing that it will be sooner than later. We know that Budinger will be out until spring and Nikola Pekovic will be back soon.
It’s just crazy. Injuries are always a concern for a team but this has been off the charts. It’s a head scratcher for players not just fans as well.
In fact, take a minute to think about this. Just where would the Wolves be without the most under reported free agent signing of the off-season. At the recent GameON! Taping, “Wolves Army” fan Bart engaged me in a conversation about Andrei Kirilenko. “I had forgotten all about him, how did the Wolves get AK on the team? I’m so glad he’s here”
Bart, me too! The front office and David Kahn have volumes of information on ballers all over the world so AK never fell off their charts and the Wolves weren’t the only ones seeking the free agent. After a year in Russia during the NBA lockout and then the summer with his national basketball team in the Olympics, it was perfect time to AK to return to the NBA.
Kirilenko is a God-send for this team. In the Charlotte loss, 44minutes with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 3-for-3 from the land of “3.” Beyond the numbers, AK is relentless. Runs on every break, plays shutdown defense and is a leader on the team. A VETERAN leader picking up the slack for Kevin Love. The kind of player Love has asked the team to bring in.
During our recent GameON! Taping, center Greg Stiensma called AK the perfect teammate. “I hate to have him guarding me in practice, he’s tough and never stops. He’s always going and shows us what we have to do to get better and with AK, it’s always about defense”.
The injuries suck, no question about it. But help is coming with the arrival of Howard. With the imminent return of All-Star Kevin Love. With the healing of JJ and Pek, with fingers crossed for B-Roy. And last but not least with the Christmas present wrapped up with a No. 9 on it.
These Wolves will compete, even if they have to pull Jack Sikma and Terry Porter off the coaches bench and then pull trainer Farnam in for a Hoosiers moment. They’ll find a way. This is a different from anything we’ve had in the last ten years. This team plays defense. This team doesn’t quit. Roll your eyes or scoff but this is true. This team has a pulse. It’s got heart. It’s not even the first complete month of the season and injuries or not, I can’t wait for more. The story line is going to make April’s playoff chase that much more exciting.
Resilient. Engaging. Determined. And yes, Defensive. Those will be the adjectives we use to paint this picture. Write it down. A Wolves team banding together and playing through adversity instead of folding it up and wilting.
Remember what I keep telling you. Enjoy the ride. This is going to be a memorable year! And keep your GameON!
Coats! Coats! Coats!
The Kevin Love coat drive is back for the 5th year to help those in need this winter. It’s already started and runs through December 12 sop all you have to do is bring new and gently used coats to any of eight metro-area drop-off locations, including the Target Center Box Office and Comcast service centers. Love will deliver all donations to The Salvation Army on Dec. 19.
The goal is to make sure no one goes cold. Let’s help out and K-Love is doing his part as he will be posing for photos with fans at Best Buy in Inver Grove Heights on Dec. 1. Fans are encouraged to donate a coat and meet Kevin on that day.
If you donate, Love is saying thanks by giving you tickets to watch the team play. Love has purchased tickets to the Timberwolves' Dec. 26 game against the Houston Rockets and the Dec. 29 game against the Phoenix Suns. Fans will receive a pair of tickets to one of these games for each coat they donate (limit four tickets per family on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Check out Timberwolves.com for more info.
Lynx still hoopin’!
The WNBA season may be in the books but the Lynx players are still busy around the world. Maya Moore dropped 60 points on Yunnan, leading Shanxi Xing Rui to a 93-88 victory. She finished with a game-high 13 rebounds. Moore was 19-of-43 from the floor, including 9-of-19 from three-point range. Prior to her arrival, Shanxi Xing Rui was 0-2, but has since rattled off three consecutive victories.
Lindsay Whalen scored a game-high 21 points (8-of-10 shooting), dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes to lead Galatasaray to a 100-42 victory over Edremit in the Turkish Basketball League.
Rebekkah Brunson scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting off the bench to give USK Praha a 100-72 win over Valosun Brno. She grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds (four offensive) as USK Praha improved to 10-0 in the Czech Republic Basketball League.
Seimone Augustus scored 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting as Sparta&K lost 75-87 to Nadezhda Orenburg in the Russian League.
In her Italian League debut, Devereaux Peters scored 11 points (5-of-11 from the field) and grabbed 10 rebounds (four offensive) to give Lucca the 73-45 victory over Chieti.
And Taj McWilliams-Franklin is not playing overseas this winter, but is an assistant coach for Rice University. The Owls won their season opener on Friday, defeating Prairie View A&M 57-42.
The Lynx have updated info on their players during their overseas adventures. Go to Lynx Around the World page on LynxBasketball.com for more.
We’re all on MY29!
You know that GameON! is on FOX’s MY29! The Wolves will offer a franchise-record 78 regular-season games will be 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 10:30AM. Our special guests Wolves center Greg Stiensma, Vikings standout and Hall of Famer John Randle and 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. 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!