W. Bennett Berry
The Thunder snap their 3 game losing streak, defeating the T-Wolves, 127-111.
In a game featuring very little defense, and a lot of runs, Oklahoma City was able to lead wire-to-wire, but not without a few close calls. After hovering right around a 10 point lead for much of game, OKC was able to go on a run midway through the second half and ended the third up by 17.
Brooks tried to sit the starters for the fourth quarter, but Minnesota went on a run midway through the fourth, cutting it to 11, before Durant and Westbrook reentered the game. Both of them were able to take control of the game immediately, and avoided another Thunder let down.
The T-Wolves, led by Alexey Shved with 17 points, had 7 players in double figures tonight.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Despite snapping the 3 game losing streak, the Thunder's defense was disappointing. The T-Wolves are still without Kevin Love, and have one of the worst offenses in the NBA, and still managed 111 points on the night.
Like the Houston game, OKC was able to build a significant lead, and unlike the Houston game, was able to close it out, but not before allowing Minnesota back in the ball game.
The Thunder had no answer for J.J. Barea, who has consistantly frustrated the Thunder by his ability to get to the basket. Our own Bill Champion wrote about why Barea might be a trade option for the Thunder, arguing that it may be better for him to be on the Thunder rather than against us. Luckily, the T-Wolves won't be in the playoffs this year, and OKC won't have to worry about running into him there.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
OKC shot an impressive 57.8% FG on the night, and for the first time this season, reached 100 points in the third quarter. Neither team showed much of anything on the defensive end of the court, as both teams were able to pretty much score at will. Unlike the Houston game, Minnesota simply didn't have a reliable scorer to put them over the top in the end.
The T-Wolves have been without Kevin Love for much of the season and have suffered on both sides of the floor as a result of his absence. Tonight, he could've lifted a struggling first team, who seemed to be more a liability than anything.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
Minnesota's bench went 16-18 shooting for 26 points in the first half, and ended with 24-38 shooting for 59 points. OKC simply didn't have an answer defensively for the T-Wolves second team. Four of the T-Wolves bench played over 24 minutes in the game. In fact, only one of Minnesota's starters shot over 50%, while 4 different bench players achieved the same feat.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
The Thunder snap a 3 game losing streak, their longest of the year, but still showed a lot of the flaws that we've seen recently, most importantly, the inability to close out games. This time the Thunder had no excuses, a full line-up, at home, against a struggling team without their best player, and still nearly gave the game away in the final minutes, and still struggled to find any consistency from their second team.
OKC has yet to debut their newest member, Ronnie Brewer. Look to see him in the line-up on Sunday as OKC takes on the Bulls.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, 37 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds.
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Martin, 19 points, 7-11 FG
Thunder Blunder: none
Thunder Plunderer: J.J. Barea, 14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds.
Next game: vs. Chicago Bulls, on Sunday, Feb. 22 @ 8:30 pm CDT
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