Simons Says - Nov. 8, 2012



As weeks go, this has been a pretty good one for the Wolves.

For a season that has started with two of the team’s best players sidelined due to injury, these Wolves have banded together and delivered the best start in more than a decade at three wins in four games.

Just days ago, as the nation was casting ballots, the Wolves were casting shot after shot in a furious record setting second half in Brooklyn. That win is still being talked about and for good reason.

Forget that it’s the fourth best comeback in team history. Forget that the team rallied from more than 20-down after losing 48-hours earlier to a very beatable Toronto club coached by former boss Dwane Casey.

What was the most impressive element of this win over the new look and en vogue Nets is how they did it. Minnesota used a very athletic and smaller line-up to out savvy Brooklyn. Led by Russians Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shevd, Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger, the Wolves out-ran, out-rebounded, protected the ball and played like they were on a nearby playground under the lights instead of in that new snazzy Barclays Center.

That is the kind of game NBA players crave. The kind you enjoy watching from the bench. The kind you never forget when you are playing and contributing. Prior to the Orlando game, I asked a few of the players what it was like. Their responses, “Unforgettable.” “Too much fun.” “______ awesome.” Yep.

The game also underscores just what Coach Rick Adelman is trying to accomplish here. Build a winner with interchangable parts. When one struggles, another picks up the pieces. Be more athletic and physical than the opponent. Enjoy your “job.” It is only basketball. And on that night in Brooklyn, the basketball was a lot more fun than balloting.

Days later back home, the Wolves didn’t let up off the gas. Against Orlando, from the get-go, the Wolves were good defensively, jumped out to a first quarter that saw them shoot 67 percent, 12 of their 25 first quarter points were in the paint and they built a 15 point lead over the Magic.

It has been a good week. Prior to meeting the Magic, assistant coach Jack Sikma told me that the coaching staff is generally pleased with the Wolves start. “I thought the comeback (In Brooklyn) was solid but shouldn’t have fallen so far behind in the first place. We’re growing. It’s a work in progress. We all need to remember that”.

Sometimes that’s the hardest thing for fans too. Ever since March 9th, Wolves fans have been waiting for good news, good games and positives like the past week. This note was waiting for me after the Orlando win from a GameON! viewer via my show e-mail:

Andrea in Edina: “I want to get excited but I feel like I’ll jinx them. I’m still not convinced they can get on a roll without Rubio and Love.”

Andrea, thanks for the note and watching the show. Why can’t they get on a roll? Just some reinforcement for you. In the past two wins, Brandon Roy has played 29/26 minutes with solid contributions, 7 and 9 assists in the games. Kirilenko, 16/7 points in 32/30 minutes. 9/11 steals in the two games and shooting has been solid, 50 percent against Brooklyn and 44 percent versus the Magic (67 percent in the first quarter and equally blazing in the third quarter too).

These players have made it clear…they plan to win WITHOUT the stars and when they return, it will only make a better team. This is NOT last year’s team. Better rebounding. So far, I see better defense and much more athletic. There’s more to come.

There are intangibles that give me hope for the season ahead. A moment in the first quarter against Orlando after a time out. The Wolves had drawn up a play and it was a fairly quiet huddle as Adelman was doing his best Tim Russert on the white board.

The execution of the play is what shocked me a bit. Out of the huddle, the Wolves inbounded to guard Luke Ridnour, he spun off a pick and buried a long “2.” JUST as it was designed. Who says players don’t listen in those huddles even though it appears they are watching what Crunch is up to and the Dancers too.

This note from another viewer: Dom in New Hope: “You told me at a recent taping that you watch all the NBA teams. Have you picked your favorites yet?” Dom, thanks for the note and visiting our show taping.

I did pick my favorites recently and I will tell you that I’m still wavering about the Lakers, my eyes are red when it comes to OKC and I’m liking the Spurs more and more in the West. I’m telling you, call me a “homer” if you want, but if the Wolves continue to get wins in their pocket, like the Orlando and Brooklyn games, they’ll find themselves rising up the standings. Those are season building wins, just like are W’s over front runners like Miami, LAL, OKC and such. In fact, I had a friend ask me at the game if I liked the job David Kahn (President of BB Operations) was doing and I responded, “He’s built the type of team I would have”…so yes.

Dom didn’t catch them and that means that this might have escaped you too. So, here they are.

SimonsSays: My picks!

Starting in the East, after watching Miami handle the nicely retooled Celtics, the Heat have to get the nod. They are better than last year and if D-Wade plays bigger than last year, they’ll get to the finals to defend their crown.

I still like the Celtics. Not sold on Indiana, Brooklyn or the patchwork Knicks. I defy the experts and see Chicago as a challenge even if D-Rose is missing. Look out for the 76ers especially if they are healthy.

In the West. What a blockbuster by OKC to trade James Harden as the season starts to the Rockets. Harden responds by showing up to his first game, signing an $80M extension and busting for 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting, 12 assists in 44 minutes and in a win over the Pistons. Wow!

I had been preaching the Lakers in the West but I’m fudging on that now. I just can’t give it to OKC for Seattle reasons so I’ll reluctantly stick with LAL to win the West (reserving the right to change my mind), OKC, San Antonio, Denver, and in the pack will be LAC, the Timberwolves, Memphis and Dallas. Yes, the playoffs will be back and basketball for a reason in mid-April will warm the hearts of hoopaholics everywhere in the upper Midwest.

If you want to be in touch, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a note to rod@gameontvmn.com

There’s work to do. Next week, tough road tests in Dallas (getting solid work from OJ Mayo and Chris Kaman in a retooled roster) and the Rose-less Bulls in the new Madhouse on Madison. Then its home for very winnable games against Charlotte, the Warriors and Denver.

It’s early, yes. But there’s no reason to start this season without optimism. Even without its stars on the floor and on the mend, this group is getting it done. That’s Rick’s way. And this is just the start. Keep enjoying the Wolves start to the NBA ride. And keep your GameON!

Estar atento Wolves!

The next Timberwolves Spanish broadcasting will be Nov. 30 against Milwaukee. If you didn’t know, the Wolves have teamed with Milestone Radio, LLC to broadcast the team's games in Spanish on La Mera Buena FM 107.5. The agreement includes 12 Spanish-language Timberwolves broadcasts in 2012-13.

"We're excited about the renewal of our great partnership with La Mera Buena and Milestone Radio, LLC," said Ted Johnson, Timberwolves Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications and Chief Marketing Officer. "It's been a priority for our organization for a number of years now to reach our fans in the Latino community and we're pleased to do so by continuing to offer this great outlet for Spanish-speaking fans to enjoy Wolves basketball."

With Ricky Rubio & JJ Barea, it’s a great fit. The play-by-play announcer for all Timberwolves Spanish-language broadcasts is long time broadcaster Alfonso Fernandez, who returns for his eighth season of calling the Wolves action. Fernandez also serves in the same capacity with the MLB's Minnesota Twins. Additionally, Fernandez has called games in Spanish for the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Rams.

This season marks the Timberwolves' 10th consecutive season of providing a Spanish-language broadcast, and the eighth season with La Mera Buena.

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! powered by SEVEN Steakhouse Sushi Ultralounge & Skybar this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 at 10:30AM. Our special guests standout place kicker Blair Walsh, Minnesota boxing champion “Golden” Caleb Truax 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! powered by SEVEN allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly tapings next door to Target Center @ SEVEN (7th and Hennepin). 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!


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