Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 11/12/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Love spoke with intenseprofundity back on the Timberwolves' media day, outlining a cornerstone of histeam's potential this season."We have to be the team that hits first," thesuperstar power forward said. "We can't be hit first and then try to pickourselves back up."While they have an unenviable task every offseason, theNBA's schedule makers didn't do Minnesota many favors in that regard.For the first time in the franchise's 25-year history, theTimberwolves will have played 18 games by the end of November. Their 1-1 tripto the City of Angels over Veterans Day weekend was the second of fiveback-to-backs -- three on the road, two home-and-aways -- between the start ofthe season and Dec. 1.Only Dallas and San Antonio face that manytwo-games-in-two-nights stints. Minnesota receive more than one day of restbetween contests just twice this month -- they haven't yet.Rick Adelman detests it.Especially perturbing, he said, are travel plans like theones coming up for the Timberwolves this weekend. After playing in Denver,they'll board a plane and return to Minneapolis for a home game against Boston.Nov. 19, they're on the road at Washington before hosting the Clippers the nextday at the Target Center.Then they'll fly to play at Brooklyn on Nov. 22 and returnhome to host the Rockets on Nov. 23."I don't think Denver and Minnesota are close orMinnesota and Houston are close," Adelman said with a smirk. "I neverunderstood why, when they do something like that, they don't just give you ateam that's a little more in your region."But for the same reason the Timberwolves will travel moremiles than any other team this year, their home state's geographic isolationamong Western Conference clubs plays a part. The only teams in Minnesota's"region" all compete in the East; Denver (698 miles away) is theclosest Western Conference city.They aren't playing cupcakes, either. The jungle that is theTimberwolves' November slate includes two contests against Oklahoma City, theClippers, Denver and Dallas and road dates with Houston and Indiana.It's a frustrating state of affairs that aren't goinganywhere anytime soon. More relevantly, it's a hurdle the Timberwolves mustovercome if they're to turn around the organization's fortunes."That's the way it is," said Adelman, whose teamtakes a 5-3 mark into Wednesday night's home matchup with Cleveland. "Weknew it was gonna be a tough month."Historically, Minnesota carriesa .372 winning percentage in the month of November, which ranks 26th amongactive NBA franchises since 1985-86.So far this year, they've survived.Kevin Love is off to the best start of his career, leadingthe league in rebounding (108) and ranking second in points (26.4 per game)while dishing out five assists per game. Kevin Martin's 55.8-percent 3-pointclip is seventh among shooters with 20 or more attempts -- he's 24-for-43 --and he's the NBA's No. 5 scorer at 24.6 points per game.Ricky Rubio has struggled shooting but continues to excel asa playmaker and point defender. He leads the league in steals (27) and rankssecond in assists (71) behind Chris Paul.Big man Nikola Pekovic finally found a groove in theTimberwolves' nail-gnawing loss against the Clippers on Monday. The center shot40.3 percent -- about 12 off his career average -- in Minnesota's first sevengames but went 11-for-15 from the floor for 25 points and 10 rebounds.While it ended with close-in shots by Pekovic and Lovefalling off the rim, the Timberwolves' 109-107 defeat may have provided thebest window into their identity early in the year. They twice rallied back from11 down and nearly overcame a severe lack of bench production that has got toimprove if they're going to make a postseason push.The Clippers' reserves outscored those of Minnesota 40-17,and the Timberwolves' 19.6 bench points per game are good for last in the NBA.But Adelman liked his team's grit, especially on the secondday of one of those dreaded road back-to-backs."That's the way you have to play," the coach said."It's a back-to-back; they're waiting for us. We have that all month, sowe have to continue to try and get better." Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
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