Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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On Tuesday night, the Gophers fell behind by 17 points before rallying...and losing.
The Wild continued to embarrass itself and its entire effort-based sport with another pathetic performance.
Our bright spot came from the NBA. Actually, from two unanticipated sources in the NBA.
And Kevin Love.
Mo, as you know, scored 52 points to break the Wolves' losing streak. Just as impressive, he scored 52 points without frequenting the paint. He scored 52 points with a 7-3 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was both prolific and efficient, and it's nice to see a Wolves point guard invested in avoiding losing. (You can come back any month now, Ricky.)
While Mo was doing strange things, Kevin Love kept proving he is who we thought he was. In a loss at Phoenix, Cavs coach David Blatt benched Love for the fourth quarter, saying he liked the way his on-court lineup matchup up with Phoenix defensively.
In other words, Love remains a terrible defensive player.
Love finished with nine points and nine rebounds. He was 3-for-11 from the field. He was a team-worst minus-20.
Blatt made headlines the other day by saying Love isn't a maximum-contract player. He tried to spin that after guaging the public reaction, but I believe he was offering an honest assessment of a limited player.
Love is great at putting up big numbers. He's not so great at playing winning basketball.
I'll admit I've been conflicted on Love (great band name) for years. I've praised his productivity. I thought Wolves fans blamed him too much for the struggles of what has been a terrible basketball organization. But I also questioned his effort, defense and attitude at times.
Now he's playing with the best player in the world, on a team that should be near the top of the East, and the Cavs are 19-20, and Love is partly to blame.
I'll give Flip Saunders credit for getting Andrew Wiggins for Love, and I'll also credit the Golden State Warriors for being smart enough to keep Klay Thompson. It's not surprising that the team that decided against trading for Love is playing so well.
Tonight's podcast: 5 p.m. at The Local (the great Irish bar on Nicollet), former Viking and current North High AD Leo Lewis will be my guest. Friday at 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, my guest will be Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. You can listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thanks.
Andrew Wiggins still doesn't show much emotion on court. He still doesn't look like he's always passionately engaged with playing in the NBA. But let's stop looking at body language and look at results. The kid is playing at a remarkably high level for a rookie, especially one at his age.
He's scored 20 points or more in five straight games. Last night, against Phoenix, he was remarkably efficient, scoring 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting and making four of his five free throws.
He's increasingly willing to drive into the heart of a defense, and to be the Wolves' go-to scorer.
Yes, the Wolves have lost 13 straight, and yes, Ricky Rubio may take two or three more years to come back from an ankle sprain, but the most important person in the Wolves' organization is Wiggins, and he's starting to perform like a budding star.
The Wolves drew a small crowd for an 8:30 start on a freezing night, but at least a few fans were there to chant ``R-O-Y'' - meaning rookie of the year - when Wiggins went to the line late in the game.
While my appreciation of Wiggins grows, I'm having trouble watching Thad Young play. He's Kevin Love Lite - he can amass a certain number of points and rebounds, but his defense is horrid.
At 3 p.m. today Strib hockey writer Michael Russo and I will run a live podcast from the XCel Energy Center press box. We'll talk about the passing of J.P. Parise, and the predicament in which the Wild finds itself, plus the usual music, pop-culture and other-sport nonsense. You can listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Tidbits following the Wolves' 108-103 victory over Atlanta at Target Center on Tuesday night:
-16-15 matches the Wolves' best record after 31 games since they were 16-15 in 2006-07
-The Wolves had lost 11 straight to the Hawks.
-The Wolves are 8-0 this season when scoring 100.
-Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Wolves dominate the scoring in the paint, 50-38.
-Ricky Rubio finished with eight assists. He didn't drive the lane often, but he was deft in finding teammates open for jump shots.
-Derrick Williams matched a career-high by hitting three three-pointers. He's shooting 45.2 percent on 3s in his last 31 shots.
-Andrei Kirilenko, the lovable Russian, had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. He reached 2,0000 career assists. He needs one steal to become the 15th player in NBA history to reach 2,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 blocks.
Wrote my column on the Wolves' injury woes and the admirable way they've overcome them. I invoke the name of Joey Two Steps.
I'll be on 1500espn from 9-noon all week with Judd Zulgad. I believe we'll have Wolves coach Bill Bayno on at some point tomorrow.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Who would have imagined a few months ago that our most prominent winter sports teams would add Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?
The Wild, one of the most boring teams in the NHL the past two seasons, should now be entertaining, and should make the playoffs.
The Wolves now feature a starting lineup that, when the knees of Roy and Ricky Rubio are willing, will look something like this: Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic. With a bench of Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Stiemsma and Derrick Williams.
In short, the Wolves have added depth and talent without sacrificing Williams or trading away first-round draft picks. Kirilenko will add length to the Wolves' defense, and can score and get to the line without hogging the ball. He should mesh well in Adelman's offense.
The Wolves could have made a bigger splash, by trading for Pau Gasol or Nic Batum. But they would have had to sacrifice valuable assets to get those players. They may be better off, long-term, by adding Kirilenko as a free-agent and helping Williams develop into either a starter or a more valuable trade chip.
The Wolves will also be improved because they won't be relying on Wes Johnson, Mike Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Darko to play important minutes. This is the definition of addition by subtraction.
Could we see the Wolves and the Wild in the playoffs? I think so. Especially if Rubio recovers well and Roy can play valuable minutes.
I hope to watch the Russian team with Kirilenko and Alexey Schved on Sunday, and get Kirilenko's thoughts on playing for the Wolves.
I don't often envy athletes. Those who are great successes lead great lives, but most wind up frustrated, broke and without a real career at the age of 35.
Here's a guy I envy: Kurt Rambis.
Rambis will be paid $4 million to not work for David Kahn and Glen Taylor.
Yes, I'm jealous.
-Now that the Rambis fiasco is over, where will Kahn turn for his next coach?
Strib Wolves beat wrtier Jerry Zgoda listed some potential candidates. Rick Adelman would be a grand slam, a fine coach who deals well with players, emphasizes ball movement and can play fast enough to satisfy Kahn.
Don Nelson would be a an act of desperation, another example of Kahn reaching for a proven name, even though the proven name was kicked out of his last two jobs and is 71.
Sam Mitchell still interests me, but I keep hearing that he has no shot at this job.
Know what name I like on Zgoda's list? Dave Joerger. I like coaches who commit to being a head coach early in their career, rather than riding coattails like Rambis did with Phil Jackson. I like guys who learn how to win at lower levels before they climb to the big time. And I like guys, like Joerger and Dwane Casey and Tom Thibodeau, who are given responsibility for an NBA team's defense and succeed.
Joerger helped the Grizzlies make the playoffs and beat the Spurs. He'd be hungry and driven. I don't know if he'd be the right guy, but he has the right kind of resume for my tastes.
-It's amazing. Every scout and baseball person and even baseball writer I speak with tells me they expect the Twins to win the AL Central. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by that, but I fear fans are assuming it's going to be easy, and the Twins will still have to play at a remarkable pace to make it to 85 victories, which is probably the fewest number of victories that would win the division. (That's just my guess.)
The Twins are 41-48. Can they really go 44-29 with this bullpen?
I believe they'll have to find at least one more arm to go with Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Glen Perkins. Maybe that's Chuck James. Maybe that's Carlos Gutierrez. More likely, the Twins will have to overpay to land a reliever on the trade market.
The Twins are obligated to go for it, given the continuing sellouts in Target Field. But I'm not sure their farm system can take many more hits.
Remember, one of the reasons the Twins were able to surge back into relevance in the early 2000s was because of the trades made by Terry Ryan. He got Johan Santana for nothing; Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for a catcher who was about to be replaced by Joe Mauer (A.J. Pierzynski), and made minor deals for Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, Alexi Casilla and others who offered value.
Those deals are hard to make. So while the Twins may find it necessary to trade for another reliever, they can't afford to give up any more top prospects.
-Upcoming: I"ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then filling in for Joe Anderson tonight from 6-8. My guests will include Dave St. Peter, San Jose columnist Tim Kawakami (on the NBA, Don Nelson, Moneyball and the Giants), my personal soccer guru Dana Wessel and Lynx star Maya Moore.
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