The Minnesota Timberwolves controlled the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.
The Wolves shot 60 percent (12-of-20) in the first, including four threes, and commanded a 32-26 lead going into the second quarter.
However, the Thunder turned up the defensive intensity for the final 36 minutes and rode a Kevin Durant triple-double to a 113-103 win, extending their home winning streak to 9-0 to open the season.
After shooting 60 percent in the first, Minnesota shot 39.3 percent in the second, allowing Oklahoma City to cut the lead to 58-53 before halftime. Durant scored 20 (9-for-11) in the first half while the Thunder's bench poured in 17.
Durant continued his show and the Thunder continued playing defense in the second half.
Durant scored 12 down the stretch and recorded nine helpers and six boards. He finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists and became the first player since 1973-1974 to record 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, 12+ assists, 4+ steals and 4+ blocks in a game.
Oklahoma City's defense was stellar down the stretch as well.
The Timberwolves shot just 34.1 percent in the second half, including 3-of-13 from three. Love went 1-for-8 with seven points in the final 24 minutes and Kevin Martin, who had 17 points in the first half, was held to just seven in the second.
The Thunder outscored the Timberwolves 35-20 in the fourth on the way to their ninth-straight home win.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
It's really tough to defend the Thunder for 48 minutes.
It seemed like Minnesota did everything they could to scratch together a lead for three quarters. And even after they held a 83-78 lead through three, everybody in the building knew it was the Thunder's game to win.
Durant was a beast all night, however, the rest of the team didn't quite have the same rhythm. It felt like it was only a matter of time before the rest of the team clicked, and when they did, it was over.
What was the overall reason the Thunder won?
Durant's triple-double was a huge reason, but the Thunder still wouldn't have extended their home winning streak without picking up the defensive intensity after the first quarter.
Durant can break all the records in the book and record all the milestones he wants to, however, tonight proved that even if they play great defense for just 36 minutes, they're still pretty tough to beat on their home floor.
What was the key statistic to understanding the game?
Two stats: 32-12-10-4-4 and 36.2 percent.
32-12-10-4-4 is Durant's stat-line for the evening. Again, the first time any player has ever done that since steals and blocks have been recorded as official stats.
36.2 percent is Minnesota's shooting-percentage after the first quarter. Pretty crazy how well the Thunder can defend when they play with more energy than the other team.
What does this game mean going forward?
It means the Thunder could be the NBA's best home team this season. They just finished 6-0 on a six-game home stand that featured the Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Nuggets and Timberwolves, all teams that either made the playoffs last year, or will likely make it this year. It's becoming apparent no team wants to see the Thunder with a home-court advantage in a seven-game series.
|Final - 12.1.2013||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||26||29||23||35||113|
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant (32 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks)
Thunder Down Under: Reggie Jackson (18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists)
Thunder Blunder: Team's first quarter defense.
Thunder Plunderer: Kevin Martin (24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists)
Next game: at Sacramento Kings (Dec. 3rd) @ 9:00 PM CDT.
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