Found March 01, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
LOS ANGELES It's time to play a mind game a borderline sick one, if you're a Minnesota sports fan. Let's say the predictions were right, that the Timberwolves were to finish the 2012-13 season with 45 wins. That would have put them at eight games over .500 on the season, perhaps six or seven games over right now, as February turns to March. It would have put them on par with, say, the Warriors, who currently sit at 33-25. The Warriors have had injuries, most notably to center Andrew Bogut, who's yet to play this season beyond just a handful of games. Now, let's assume Bogut is Golden State's best player; Steph Curry and David Lee are giving him a run for his money in that category, but we'll assume it nonetheless. He's roughly the equivalent of a Kevin Love, both in his talent and the fact that his few games won't have any say on his team's season. So Bogut is out. Now, let's assume the Warriors lost their star point guard, Curry, until mid-December, that he didn't return to form until February. Let's assume that their starting shooting guard, Klay Thompson, played five games before being sidelined for the remainder of the season, that their starting small forward, Harrison Barnes, has been plagued by nagging injuries of late. Let's also give a few such problems to another big man say, Lee costing him 20 or so games on the year. Say their sixth man, Carl Landry, is out as well, sidelined after just six games and with no return projected until late March, and then axe another bench player, perhaps Draymond Green, for the year, too. Looks kind of sadistic, right, on paper? But that, in a rough parallel, is what has happened to the Timberwolves this year, and you have to know if all that had shaken out in Golden State, falling to a six seed would be the least of coach Mark Jackson's worries right now. So for anyone out there still bemoaning the Timberwolves' lack of a fleeting chance at the playoffs, remember that. It's easier to see it objectively, the absolutely crippling power of a few hurt players, when it isn't your team all splayed out and broken on the page in front of you. On Thursday night in Los Angeles, the hits just kept coming. A day before, small forward Andrei Kirilenko had seemed skeptical that he'd be able to play at all in the near future with his calf strain, and he limped into the locker room before his team's game against the Lakers. Then, in the first quarter of the eventual 116-94 loss, center Nikola Pekovic left with an abdominal strain, and though the team has not yet provided any further details on his situation, it's not unreasonable to guess that he'll miss a few games. And so it'll be Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams trading off at small forward, Greg Stiemsma likely starting at center with Chris Johnson backing him up a whole lot of role players inheriting roles a whole lot bigger than they should be. And so of course there will be criticism, more so than otherwise. Of course coach Rick Adelman might harp a bit more on Williams, might wish that Alexey Shved could hit those game-winning shots, might bemoan the small and tiny statures, respectively, of Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. He'll be forced to stomach mistakes from Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson, both signed for the season off 10-day contracts and sure to see more minutes with so many injuries around them. It's not like everyone will just watch these bench players start and admire how admirably they're doing when compared to what they should be doing. They're going to be held to the same standards as Love, as Kirilenko, as Pekovic or Chase Budinger, fair or unfair. They're not likely to live up to those standards, not all the time, at least, and so Adelman will be forced to critique things he should never have to critique, to wish players could do things they're not mature enough or tall enough or strong enough to do. You have to wish they'd do it, to hope there's some untapped potential or crazy drive lurking beneath the surface, but too many times, that's not the case, and supporting casts are supporting casts for a reason. That, in a way, is why these recent minor injuries Pekovic's abdomen, Kirilenko's calf and thigh are almost more disruptive than the bigger ones early in the season at this point. The Timberwolves know who they are without Love, Budinger, Brandon Roy, even without Malcolm Lee and his role, however minor. When a team knows a player will be out for the majority or entirety of a season, it adjusts accordingly, and roles solidify. But when players are in and out, hurt and better and then suddenly hurt again that's when things get dicey. That's when Williams doesn't know which forward position to play, when Cunningham is off the bench, and then a starter, and then back again. That's when Alexey Shved gets tired and maybe even a bit overwhelmed, a rookie out of Russia being asked to take game-winning shots. Hardly anyone knows what his role is, not now, and even more so if and when Pekovic sits in Portland. If this season is a team-building exercise for the Timberwolves, it's a cruel one, and the further down the rabbit hole this whole thing gets, the more I have to wonder if Kirilenko wasn't right on Wednesday when he said that if he were in Russia, he'd be in church lighting candles to attempt to remedy the mess. Seriously. If I heard the entire team stopped at a church on their way to the Rose Garden Saturday, I wouldn't think twice about it. I might not even laugh. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Pekovic leaves game with abdominal strain

LOS ANGELES The Timberwolves injury nightmare just went from bad to worse. Nikola Pekovic left Minnesotas game against the Lakers with 2:41 remaining in the first quarter with an abdominal strain. He will not return. Pekovic logged eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in nine minutes of play, leading the team in scoring early. With his absence, the Timberwolves will be forced to give...
WELCOME BACK

Brandon Roy receives standing O in Portland

An NBA player from a visiting team generally doesn't receive a sustained standing ovation at the opposition's home court. Brandon Roy, as it turns out, is clearly an exception to the norm.At tonight's Timberwolves-Trailblazers matchup in Portland, famed former Blazer and current (injured)Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy graced the Rose Garden with his presence and received...

Nikola Pekovic suffers abdominal strain, leaves game and won't return

The Minnesota Timberwolves' frontcourt was already shorthanded without Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko. The Wolves suffered another blow when an abdominal strain forced Nikola Pekovic from Thursday's game with the Lakers. Rotoworld reported that Pek wouldn't return. Pekovic played nine minutes and finished with eight points and three rebounds. Pek has battled...

Ricky Rubio's amazing pass against the Lakers

  During last night's game against the Lakers, Timberwolves passing maestro Ricky Rubio threw some absolutely ridiculous passes. Most notable among these was Rubio's wonderful wraparound assist to Dante Cunningham in the first quarter, which is shown below. As a bonus, check out another one of Rubio's epic assists from last night. This time, Rubio connects on his patented...

Ricky Rubio To Alexey Shved: “Change This Face. Be Happy. Enjoy It.”

Rookie guard, Alexey Shved, was looking a little down coming out of a timeout during Thursday night’s matchup against the Lakers, and Ricky Rubio did not approve. He immediately gave his teammate some great advice, “Change this face. Be Happy. Enjoy it.”

Ricky Rubio Delivers Simple, Yet Brilliant Advice To Teammate

Given that it is a Friday, this video seems to capture the essence of the weekend (and life) just perfectly. During the Timberwolves loss to the Lakers on Thursday night Ricky Rubio unleashed some wonderful life advice to teammate Alexey Shved. It is fairly impossible not to like Ricky, huh? “Alexi, change this face. Be Happy. Enjoy.” [@CJZero] Article found on: Cosby Sweaters

Video: Happy Friday from Ricky Rubio

This really doesn’t have nor does it need much context, but Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has word to live by. Can’t really argue with him. Could have thrown a “don’t worry” in there.

Ricky Rubio has advice for Alexey Sheved (Video)

Sometimes the best advice is usually the simplest and during Thursday night's Minnesota Timberwolves/Los Angeles Lakers game, Minnesota guard Rick Rubio had some advice for his teammate, Alexey Shved.Rubio decided to dole out the chief advice of "Change your face and be happy":(Courtesy of The NBA Mistress)

Zach Galifianakis Looks Oh-So-Tiny Next to Nikola Pekovic (Photo)

Didn’t J.J. Watt teach us that it’s not a great idea to pose next to large basketball players, lest you look small? Zach Galifianakis must not have been around for that one. Galifianikis was hanging out with Nikola Pekovic, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Galifianakis — who we’re sure is a normal-sized human being — ended up looking like some kind of dwarf...

Ricky Rubio Takes Kobe and Dwight Howard to School

There had to be a reason that the Minnesota Timberwolves were willing to wait so long for this young man to be done playing ball overseas (pesky contracts). Rubio made getting past the Black Mamba look like child's play, and as for Dwight Howard--the words 'too' and 'easy' come to mind. Of course in the broad scheme of things it was only one basket;...

Ricky Rubio - Friend, Philosopher, Teammate

This is just beautiful.  Especially the ENJOY! right at the end.

Blazers breeze past Timberwolves

Damian Lillard scored 24 points, J.J. Hickson added 18 points and 16 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 109-96, on Saturday night to earn only their second win in nearly a month. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and eight rebounds for Portland, which had six players score in double figures. The Blazers jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first...

Preview: Timberwolves vs. Lakers

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow." — Thomas Paine The loss in Denver seem to have changed the attitude of the Lakers (28-30) over the course of...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.