No, said Taj Gibson, dismissing the notion out of hand.

Gibson, the Wolves power forward, had been asked if he was having his best NBA season. He shook his head. "I was up for sixth man of the year two times in a row."

But the numbers …

Gibson, in his ninth season, is playing a career-high 33.6 minutes. His scoring (12.0) is the second best of his career. His rebounding (8.0), shooting (57.6 percent) and steals (0.8) are career highs, as is his 124.0 offensive rating.

Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau has talked at great length this season about the impact Jimmy Butler and Gibson — both of whom he coached while in Chicago — have had on this season's Wolves.

Butler has been given most of the credit for a team that, entering Wednesday's game against the Nets in Brooklyn, is 10 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 regular season.

And rightfully so. Butler has been the team's leading scorer in seven of the past eight games, averaging 28.8 points in that span.

But don't forget Gibson, who is playing in his native Brooklyn on Wednesday.

He has 12 double-doubles, four games with 20 or more points. He often is asked to guard the opponents' most offensively talented big man. Over the past nine games — seven of which were Wolves wins — he has shot 57.6 percent, displaying his myriad moves in the post or hitting midrange jump shots.

"Taj is huge for us,'' Butler said, "He does all the things a lot of people in this league don't want to do. He's a winner. He plays hard. Emotional. If he doesn't like something, you'll know it. He's a glue guy. He makes us go."

Gibson has been a leader in ways that don't always show. With his thoughtful answers and his ability to talk about the process of the team coming together, he often sounds like Thibodeau in a player's uniform.

"He has had some big games for me,'' Thibodeau said when asked if Gibson was having a career season. "I would say this: He's been playing very, very well. But, I would say …. He has played great in playoff games for me. That, to me, is the ultimate measure. What you can do in a playoff series in the NBA — where there is mental warfare, discipline … That's when he's at his best."

Wolves fans likely will get to see that part of Gibson's game come April. Until then, they can appreciate the grit Gibson adds to the Wolves. He has versatility that allows him to switch on the pick and roll, and he clearly has chemistry with Butler — who assisted on three of Gibson's five baskets Monday.

"He makes sure everything is running in the correct way,'' Butler said.

Stepping up

Nobody appreciated what Gorgui Dieng did Monday more than Karl-Anthony Towns. With Towns limited by foul trouble, Dieng stepped up and scored 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

"That speaks volumes to his character,'' Towns said of Dieng, who has had to come off the bench with the addition of Gibson to the roster. "He's been everywhere in his career. Not playing, starting, coming off the bench. No matter where he is on the depth chart, he's productive."


•The Wolves, 24-14 after 38 games, were 12-26 after 38 games last season. That 12-victory improvement is the best in the league so far.