Simons Says - Nov. 7, 2013












I veered from the game for a few moments and gazed among the intense crowd at Target Center. In just one week of Wolves basketball in this new season, I sensed it was “all or nothing.” For many fans (and it really doesn’t matter with the sport), they want the payoff. Now. Well, it ain’t happening.

It’s clear after four quarters against one of the NBA’s hottest new teams, there’s tweaking and adjusting to do on Team Adelman. So it should be. For as athletic, solid shooting and exciting to watch as the hometown Wolves are, this Warriors team not only matches but raises us one. At least in meeting one.

My buddy, “Hoop,” was grumbling a half hour after the game had ended. “Refs,” he kept mumbling. Hey, if I heard Kevin Love even he admitted the Wolves gotta’ do better. "We're a better team than that defensively,” Love said after the game. The Wolves are a better defensive team than we saw. When your opponent rolls in and shoots 50 percent, outscores your bench 27-10, outrebounds you by nearly 10 boards, as a team you shoot just 38 percent and worst of all, you cough up the ball 19 times, it’s gonna be a long night.

“Hoop” continued his bashing. “Well, they can beat the Knicks in New York and Golden State, Golden State, does that here?!” Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was included in this diatribe, but it has to be edited for broadcast. I simply said, “Stop.”

It’s only Game 5. And I’m sorry but if you expect to see only wins, if you can’t handle the highs and lows, the marathon that is an 82-game NBA season, you need to find something else I told “Hoop.” Needlepoint? Fantasy Football?

This made it worse. For as up-and-down as the NBA’s first seven days have been, the next week, I believe, will be intense. Check this, Dallas on Friday night. Then, off for two in LA with the very beatable but athletic Lakers, that freakishly talented and (to some) title favorite Clip crew on the 11th. Back home to extend some payback to the Cavaliers (and then we’re done with them for the season) and following that win, a Rocky Mountain High visit to the Nuggets on the 15th.

You only have to spend seconds, truly seconds, talking to the Wolves players about the Western Conference and they’ll give it up to you. “Hey, they are all good,” Corey Brewer quipped. “They run and run, they can shoot and some of those guys (teams) have been together a while. We’ll be OK but…” Coach Adelman didn’t mean to but finished Brewer’s thought, “We have to find a way to keep things going and be more productive and that just didn't happen."

I love the way some, including my often-too-intense-friend Hoop handles a loss. After barking for a refund, he’ll badmouth the other team. “Klay Thompson. Hum. 30-points. Whatever. We shut him down.” Indeed. Until second half when he buried his first seven shots and scoring 19 in the final 12 minutes. All that after missing 7-of-9 before halftime. And remember, the Wolves aren’t the only team trying to figure out this former Washington State University gunner. Thompson is 6-foot-7, it’s a rough assignment to expect under 6-foot JJ Barea to slam the door on Thompson.

I told Hoop if the players admit there’s plenty of work to do, if the coaches do to and all of ‘em reassures us that the ship is not sinking, then why is he so grumpy. I even told him the walk to the car was as cold as the air outside. Hoop with a nightcap, “Bro (he uses time and again), The Cavs jump us. The CAVS. Then that Thompson dude, Davis Lee (I reminded him it’s David) drops 22, the old 76er busts 20 (that would be Andre Iguodala) and your buddy, the TarHeel (um, Harrison Barnes with 14). C’mon, bro…we’re in trouble.” Hoop kept talking to himself as he rolled into his car and off to the freeway.

No need to convince yourself or anyone else, quite frankly, of the impending doom and misery that lies ahead. I don’t see it. There IS work to do. The Wolves ran up against a team that jelled last season, made a nice playoff run and has asserted itself, as many predicted, as one of the big guns in the West.

I still insist that this will be as good as any Wolves team in the past decade. Even with the Golden State loss, I don’t mind the early season “L’s” that blueprint what needs to be done. I’m glad, after a week, that this team is still injury free (knock on wood). As K-Love said after the Orlando win, “It's just a game of ups and downs." With all the sports TV and the constant chatter, the bagging on this and the hammering on that around teams. I’m just not sure how much middle ground there is these days. I do know that Hoop will be back with me at Target Center. He’ll get jumpy and testy but he’s in it for 82. Just like me. High’s and low’s baby. Believe it or not, that work against the Warriors is tucked away and will be brought back for review many times this season.

So hang on. More good stuff to come. It’s all good after a week. Even if Hoop doesn’t quite agree.

SIMONSSAYS SHORT TAKES

Congrats:

To Timberwolves forward Kevin Love after being named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Oct. 29–Nov. 3. Love becomes the sixth different Wolves player in club history to be named Player of the Week, earning the award for the first time in his five-year career. This season, Love leads the NBA in scoring (29.7 ppg) and ranks second in rebounds (14.7 rpg). Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

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