What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
It's good to see the Thunder handle their business in what could have been an easy trap game. They had a big win over Cleveland last night, and will take on Phoenix on Sunday in a game that will have major implications on the 8-seed. It would have been easy to overlook this Wolves team, and Minnesota certainly showed its scrappiness in that fourth quarter.
For OKC to decisively win a game against an obviously inferior opponent - something they couldn't do against Detroit - is another great sign as they continue the climb for a playoff spot. You can only beat who they put in front of you, and the Thunder is certainly using this light stretch of schedule to get some wins back that they lost during Westbrook and Durant's absence.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
My first inclination was to say "because the Wolves are pretty bad, especially at defense." But that undersells the OKC effort. We've seen them struggle to dominate teams like Detroit, so to see them come out and execute so beautifully and score at will was a welcome sign. Things are coming together at the right time, and whether you're playing in a big game like last night against Cleveland (or Sunday against Phoenix), it's important to stay focused and approach every game the same.
You could see that in the ball movement - again, 23 assists - as well as on the glass, with the Thunder out-rebounding the Wolves 47-31. OKC simply outworked Minnesota. Sheer effort if the only thing that can really hold this team back, because we all know they have plenty of talent. The effort was there, and then some, tonight.
- Steven Adams scored four quick points (and six of the first eight), with one dunk in transition and a couple easy buckets off pick-and-rolls. Good sign to see him involved early, you have to think that's a way to get him focused early on so he doesn't drift later on.
- Very active start from the Thunder, pawing at every loose ball and getting some early offensive rebounds. They've tended to start slow in these so-called easy games, so it's another nice sign to see them dialed in from the start.
- Six minutes in and the Thunder already lead 20-7. This is the first time I can think of this season where OKC has just completely asserted their will. The Wolves look like college kids taking notes.
- Poor Zach LaVine may draw Westbrook comparisons by some, but Russ has completely annihilated him on the defensive end.
- After one, the Thunder lead 39-21. Westbrook was the star with 10 points, but Adams 8 points on 4-4 may be the most promising sign. Been a while since we've seen the Kiwi this involved. Add a little offense from him to the mix and look out, league.
- And there was this:
- Anthony Morrow hit a three at the end of the first, and had another to open up the second. He had that huge game against Boston early on, then cooled off, but after a nice game against the Cavs, he's looking like he's heating up again.
- The Thunder already with 10 assists just 16 minutes into the game. The Wolves defense is pretty bad, and guys are basically wide open, but it's nice to see OKC still making the right passes to get the easy points.
- I know you can't bet on these types of things for real, but taking "Kendrick Perkins will get called for at least one illegal screen" would be a guaranteed payout every night.
- Russell Westbrook has now incorporated the Eurostep into his already absurd offensive arsenal. He's so much fun.
- Kiwi strikes again! This time Shabazz Muhammad is the victim, as the two jawed back and forth and Muhammad got called for the tech.
- So Russell Westbrook is still dominating. I keep waiting for him to come back down to Earth a little bit, but it's possible he's just this terrifyingly good now. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that he's scoring efficiently now. The knock has always been that he takes bad shots, but he's upping his production in every category and he isn't forcing nearly as many shots. It's still so early, but he deserves legit MVP consideration if he keeps this up through the end of the year.
- Thunder set a season high for points in a half with 70 and lead 70-49 at the break. Westbrook has 20 points and 4 assists already.
- Westbrook got hacked hard on his (healing) right hand just before the buzzer. He got T'd up because it wasn't called a foul, and he was also favoring the hand as he headed to the locker room. Please not again!!
- KD hit a Dirk fadeaway to seal the deal last night, and he just drained another. He worked with Dirk's shooting coach in
the offseason"The Offseason" (#brands) and just like Westbrook's Eurostep, giving these guys more moves is pretty much unfair at this point.
- This is turning into a Russell Westbrook lovefest but I don't care, because he's really, really, fun. Hearing opposing announcers basically rendered speechless in awe over the things he does never gets old.
- Steven Adams is having an excellent game, maybe his best of the year. Just cleaned up an offensive rebound and is up to 14 points and 9 rebounds. Such a good sign to see him this active.
- Westbrook with 30-5-5 after three. Combined with Adams, it makes Durant's 13 points and five assists seem pretty pedestrian. That's crazy to think about, Durant looking pedestrian.
- Career-high seven straight games of 20-5-5 for Westbrook, in his seventh game back from injury.
- Welp, the Thunder has gone cold from deep. They're still up 14, but it seems like every fourth quarter turns into a last minute run for the opponent. Let's see if they can clamp down and keep it from becoming any sort of a real scare.
- Durant hit a 3 out of the timeout after the Wolves cut it to 11. He's so good at stopping momentum.
- This game could honestly be pretty close if the Wolves would just be a little more polished. They've missed some bunnies, had some dumb turnovers and taken some dumb shots.
- The Thunder shooting just 28 percent from 3-point range at this point, but 50 percent overall. That basically tells me when they take the time to get a good shot, they're making it. But in this fourth quarter - as they have tended to do basically since the beginning of time - they've been settling for jumpers rather than getting those better looks. I realize it's not always easy to get easy shots, and isolated jumpshots here and there are one thing. But when it consistently happens in fourth quarters, it's more than just a coincidence.
- And as I type that, Westbrook drives to the rim basically without any resistance. He makes it look so easy.
- Lead back up to 16 with four minutes to play, which is great because I don't have to change the headline for this recap. That's always the worst.
- Adams dunk! Seals the deal. One more time, for all you Kiwis to rejoice over: Tremendous game from him. Let's make it a trend!
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook: 34 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
Thunder Down Under: Steven Adams: 16 points, 11 rebounds
Thunder Blunder: Reggie Jackson: Just 6 points and 2 assists. You kind of get where he's coming from when he says he wants a bigger role after games like this.
Thunder Plunderer: no one
Next game: vs. Phoenix Suns, Sunday 12/14 @ 6PM CDT