He wants to earn it
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#1 Feb 4, 2009
Smith's injury equals more minutes for Love. Is this a Wally Pipp moment?
The Timberwolves have reached a different plateau. Early in the season they were lifeless and it was an accident if they won, and those few wins were coming against other bottom feeders. Then came the overdue ouster of Wittman. The team has responded well to the more gentle guidance of McHale and now is genuinely P.O.'ed if they don't win the game. I think the Wolves players knew they were in for a tough stretch against the Pistons, Lakers, and Celtics, but they were upset not to beat the Pistons, and disappointed that they did not give the Lakers or Celtics a tougher game. Earlier int he season they were playing these kind of games just to get them over with, without being embarassed. The Wolves are now on parity with the best of the non-playoff teams, and better than the bottom feeders. The next step will be to be able to go toe-to-toe with playoff teams like Utah, Dallas, and Phoenix, and be able to win on a consistent basis.
There is a lot to like about where McHale is taking this team. There is still some dead wood on the roster, but the roster has been largely remade. One or two good trades, or drafts, an this team could be as good as any. In 2006-2007 the Celtics were 24-58 and the Lakers were 42-40. The Celtics went out and made two terrific trades and secured KG and Ray Allen. The Lakers traded a bag of peanuts and an old game program and stole Pau Gasol. In the NBA it can turn around quickly.
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