In the absence of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, the Wolves benefit from the intangibles brought by Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson.
If there ever were a time the Timberwolves needed to be lifted up and carried by a pair of players coach Rick Adelman calls "energy guys," this is it.
Two of the players to whom Adelman now turns are forwards Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson, who, together, couldn't be expected to provide Love's 26 points and 13 rebounds -- but they will be asked to provide all the other things you can't quantify on a stat sheet.
You might define an "energy guy" as someone who will sacrifice his body and his statistical line for the collective good of the team.
Sometimes, it also can be code for a guy who can't score a lick.
Cunningham says he knows exactly what Adelman means with the tag, and is happy to be given it.
But shouldn't everybody be an energy guy?
"I like to say there's definitely a select few guys who love to hit the floor, who, if it comes down to it, love to put their blood on the floor," Cunningham said.
"If my blood is on the floor, I'm having a good time out there."
Funny way to define good times, but you get the idea.
Cunningham, a second-round pick in the 2009 draft, played for three franchises in his first four seasons and pushed for a trade from Memphis last summer in search, at age 25, of a larger role.
He will get that now, at least until All-Star forward Love recovers from his broken right hand.
"He wasn't satisfied where he played and wanted to come to a team like us to get a chance to play," Wolves owner Glen Taylor said, "and he's probably going to get more chance to play now than he anticipated."
Amundson has played for six teams in his six NBA seasons. He was the last player the Wolves signed before training camp, a 29-year-old veteran they sought to fulfill a specific role defending power forwards and center off the bench.
"It's definitely a role, something you try to provide," Amundson said. "It's a long NBA season, and there's a time in every game when the play lags a little bit and you need some energy, some tempo infused into the game.
''I try to bring that on both sides on the ball. Offensively, I try to run, pick tempo up there. Defensively, I just really try to pressure the ball.
"Basically I'm just out there trying to do everything I can to speed up the game and bring energy every night."
Cunningham blocked six shots in a game at Indiana, the most by a Wolves player in the preseason since Eddie Griffin had six in 2005. He can defend both forward positions and has a midrange shooting game that Adelman says is often overlooked.
Amundson defends both power forward and center spots and in one preseason sequence, blocked Chicago forward Taj Gibson's attempted dunk at one end of the floor and scored on an athletic putback dunk at the other end in mere seconds, his best highlight clip with the Wolves so far.
Adelman mentions both players and reserve center Greg Stiemsma in the same breath when he mentions players who provide those qualities you can't quantify statistically.
"They just do the little things," Adelman said. "They don't give up on the offensive boards at all. They're always going to them. We've had so many loose balls out on the floor that those guys have run down that we didn't do before."
The Wolves acquired both Cunningham and Amundson, in essence to replace frontcourt players Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic and Anthony Randolph, all of whom either left the team or were told to leave and signed as free agents with other teams.
The new additions by all accounts provide what the others didn't before.
"We had guys who were talented and had abilities, but we didn't have guys who knew exactly what they wanted to get out of themselves on the floor and knew what they were capable of and knew their role," Love said.
"The fact that those guys just want to win, that's going to help us tremendously. We had guys last year willing to make sacrifices, but not all the way.
"It can't just be down the middle. It has to be one way or the other, and these guys are all in."
|Houston||10||3rd Qtr 6:18|
|Minnesota||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Miami||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/8/13 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||12/8/13 3:05 PM|
|St. Louis||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|NY Giants||12/8/13 3:25 PM|
|Carolina||12/8/13 7:30 PM|
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|Miami||32||2nd Qtr 3:18|
|Colorado||0||2nd Prd 18:02|
|Ole Miss||39||2nd Half 11:57|
|High Point||35||2nd Half 7:21|
|South Dakota||63||2nd Half 7:53|
|La Verne||22||1st Half 10:00|
|Santa Clara||18||1st Half 5:43|
|Seattle||21||1st Half 4:05|
|Carroll (MT)||20||1st Half 5:12|
|San Diego St||10:00 PM|
|(19) Louisville||24||4th Qtr 2:26|
|Bowling Green||12/6/13 7:00 PM|
|(16) Northern Ill|
|(15) UCF||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(18) Oklahoma||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|(6) Oklahoma State|
|Marshall||12/7/13 11:00 AM|
|Memphis||12/7/13 12:00 PM|
|(23) Texas||12/7/13 2:30 PM|
|(5) Missouri||12/7/13 3:00 PM|
|So Florida||12/7/13 6:30 PM|
|(7) Stanford||12/7/13 6:45 PM|
|(11) Arizona State|
|(20) Duke||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Louisiana||12/7/13 7:00 PM|
|(2) Ohio State||12/7/13 7:17 PM|
|(10) Michigan State|
|Utah State||12/7/13 9:00 PM|
|(24) Fresno State|
|Palm Beach Atlantic||48||FINAL|
|William & Mary||59|
|Utah Valley U||60||FINAL|
|Sam Houston St||47|
|Loyola Marymount||64||2nd Half 1:27|
|Miami-Florida||48||2nd Half 10:02|
|San Diego Christian||2||1st Half 5:52|
|Northern Ariz||25||1st Half 4:39|
|UC Santa Barbara||23|
|St Marys-CA||44||1st Half 3:37|
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