Simons Says - Nov. 29, 2012
It hardly seems like a week ago that, on the night before Thanksgiving, the Wolves were given an early holiday present with the return of Kevin Love.
Ragged and weary, the Wolves are back from the jaunt west and look to get a little rest and a lot of practice time. Time on the court that will include Ricky Rubio.
Fans aren’t the only ones excited to get No. 9 back on the court. His teammates are eager to have his contribution but more importantly, as the return of Love showed us all, this team will need time to meld Rubio back into the fabric of group.
You might not think it if you look at the GameON! Mailbag but a month in, I believe the Wolves are just fine. Six wins in 14 games doesn’t alarm me at all. A year ago the Wolves were on a frenetic pace. Remember?! The lockout had just ended and the Wolves (and every other team) were in a wind sprint to get games played. In fact, Minnesota opened the day after Christmas and within 23 days the Wolves had played 14 games to the same 6-8 record.
There’s no question that the team is on the rise with the contribution Kevin Love delivers nightly. He ditched his protective right hand glove and his game took off. In LA, in 35 minutes he hit for 19 and grabbed 12 rebounds. Love didn’t shoot well either. In Sacramento the night before, his 23-point, 24-rebound effort was a big reason Minnesota dispatched the Kings. After a half dozen games, Love is back averaging just below 24 points and around 16 rebounds a night.
One viewer was watching the LAC game and by the third period, dropped me a note while falling in love with Alexi Shved. “Why doesn’t (Coach) Adelman start Shved? He’s really good. Better than I expected.” Dan in Rogers is learning what most people are just starting to get. Shevd IS a player and Kudos to the Wolves scouts who got this one done.
Shved hit two dramatic and vital 3’s to ice the win against Sacramento and then, in LA, Shevd logged 35 minutes and played in a small line-up that was strong for the Wolves prior to halftime. His value to this team is providing that punch off the bench. He’s perfect where he is and with Rubio returning, it’s all becoming clearer.
Shevd is gaining confidence on the court and is being repaid for his strong play with the minutes doled out by Coach Adelman. Listen, the line-up is still being juggled around and will be as players, like Rubio, return and start commanding time that others have now. Shevd was the only player off the bench to score in double figures (17) for the Wolves against the Clips.
No way to argue that this was a big “get.” Shevd is a solid addition. A piece that makes this year’s team much better than before. Shevd and fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko (who missed playing in LA because of back spasms) are versatile, strong contributors. They are role players who will help Love and Rubio do their heavy lifting. Assistant coach Jack Sikma told me that they “make the guys around them better.” Big time NBA praise.
I like the fact that the Wolves are getting pushy in the paint. Note this, the Wolves' outrebounded LAC 52-35 and the night before, outrebounded Sacramento 51-36 for their seventh double-digit rebounding advantage of the season. They are going to win more than they lose getting after the basketball like that and just one more reason that Love’s return is so big for this team.
Some fans are cranky after watching team T’Wolve on the road. I chuckled with this note from big GameON! fan Wally in Orono. “Please tell me that D-Will (Derrick Williams) is going to play more as the season progresses. I’m going to get sick if he’s another wasted draft pick.” Wally, thanks and I think it’s too early to pass the Pepto. The good thing is that Derrick’s last name will never be Ebi so we have that going this situation.
However, it does appear that D-Will will have to buckle down to play himself back into the lineup by solid showings during games and intense contributions in practice. No. 7 got into the LAC game and scored 4 points with 5 ribbies in 12 minutes. Sitting in three of the past 4-games is killing the young forward (and former No. 2 overall draft pick) out of Arizona but this roster is upgraded and Adelman is tough when it comes to minutes. Just being here and being highly regarded isn’t enough. Darko got the door when his work ethic didn’t deliver. Adelman expects performance and D-Will has to gain that consistency.
Wally’s point isn’t lost on me or anyone else who watches the Wolves. Does D-Will fit? We’ll see. Still a bit early to get a trade trigger finger or too emotionally spent on it. It’s a long NBA season and D-Will needs to be patient. He also needs to work harder than everyone in earning that time on the court.
Coats! Coats! Coats!
The Kevin Love coat drive is back for the fifth year to help those in need this winter. It’s already started and runs through Dec. 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 vs. the Houston Rockets and the Dec. 29 game vs. 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.
Holiday Hoops anyone?!
The Wolves & Lynx Basketball Academy is hosting eight 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 Dec. 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 www.timberwolves.com/holiday-clinics. For additional questions, contact Pat Freeman at (612) 673-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re all on MY@29!
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 show comes from Metrodome with Vikings Safety Mistral Raymond, the new owners of Minnesota’s pro soccer team, Stars FC with Dr. Bill McGuire and Mick Rogers. Also guesting is KFAN producer & NHL insider Brandon “TennaB” Mileski and Twins baseball curator Clyde Doepner. 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 GameOnTV.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 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 Timberwolves.com.
Keep your GameON! See you soon!