clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Recap: Thunder shocked by Timberwolves in final seconds, 99-96

New, comments

Ricky Rubio sealed the game with a three....

2 much 2 handle, especially in foul trouble
2 much 2 handle, especially in foul trouble
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have upset the Oklahoma City Thunder, 99-96. The Timberwolves managed to get the last possession with the game tied, and gave the ball to Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins drove around a screen and was met in the paint by Adams. But Westbrook was cheating off of Rubio. Wiggins made a critical last second pass and swung it to Rubio for the last second three. The Thunder only had 0.2 seconds to respond, with no timeouts. Effectively, OKC was shut out.

Box ScoreShot Chart/Play-by-PlayPopcorn MachineKevin Durant 28 Pts HighlightsEnes Kanter 17 Pts Highlights |  Russell Westbrook 26 Pts Highlights |  Gorgui Dieng 25 Pts HighlightsAndrew Wiggins 20 Pts HighlightsRicky Rubio 12 Assists Highlights

The Final Moments, and why OKC lost

Rubio's last second three was the first time Minnesota had led the game since the middle of the third quarter. The Thunder maintained a slim lead throughout the fourth quarter. But OKC's lead didn't climb higher than 6. It's hard to pin the loss on one player. KD was reasonably clutch, scoring three times in seven possessions over the course of the last four and a half minutes. Westbrook was 1 of 2. And no one else really got a chance, save for a single missed contested mid-range shot by Morrow. Adams also lost an offensive possession setting an illegal screen.

Defensively, the Thunder were another story in the closing five minutes. LaVine was able to hit an off the dribble three. Dieng got to the line twice, once in the pick and roll and once in transition. And Karl-Anthony Towns was able to hit crucial close shots over Nick Collison and Kevin Durant. The Thunder were forced into using Collison late because Serge Ibaka had fouled out.

Really, the Thunder's last few minutes are symbolic of their entire game. OKC just wasn't excelling on either end tonight. The Thunder shot a reasonable 42% from the field, but also had 24 turnovers to 15 assists. On the other end, the Thunder weren't forcing turnovers at all, and the Timberwolves finished with 22 assists to 12 turnovers. Furthermore, the Thunder couldn't get any help from their wings off of the bench. Singler, Foye and Morrow would combine to shoot a putrid 4 of 24 from the floor tonight.

Donovan's Lineups were good early, but poor late

In the first half, we saw Billy Donovan run a couple of wacky lineups. One had Collison at center. That lineup gained a 5 point advantage in the final 1:22 of the first, as well as another 5 point advantage in the first 2:25 of the second. But we never saw the Collison center lineup again. Additionally, in the middle of the second quarter, Donovan went to the Twin Towers lineup for 4:10. That lineup was +2 overall, but generated a 7-0 run at one point. Donovan chose not to return to that lineup for the rest of the game.

Roberson's second half absence undoubtedly caused some havoc amongst the Thunder's rotations. But why should that affect how Donovan subs the bigs? In the second half, the Thunder either stayed traditional, or went small with Kanter at center and KD at power forward. The T-Wolves rotations didn't really change. Really puzzling stuff from Donovan, and 10 different lineups used in the fourth quarter alone.

The bottom line though? This team has a serious turnover problem, as currently constructed. It will be interesting to see if Donovan drags the KD as point guard experiment into tomorrow's game against San Antonio, because it hasn't worked the majority of the time so far.

Slammin' Notes

  • Kevin Durant had an atrocious 1 of 6 start in the first quarter. Mostly, Durant just couldn't hit when given space. But Durant would finish shooting 10 of 14, and really found his groove in the middle of the game. Durant's M.O. was mostly to get himself free off the ball. Durant had a couple of magnificent cuts to the rim, and could take advantage of switches around screens as well. 6 Turnovers to 1 assist, though. How much longer will the KD point guard experiment continue? Three KD turnovers were a result of him making a bad decision around a screen. Two other turnovers were because KD was stripped in the open court. Rubio in particular did a great job of keeping KD second guessing with his help defense.
  • Russell Westbrook had one of his so-so games. 26 points on 8 of 19 shooting, 8 assists to 5 turnovers. Not the worst stats in the world, but they're usually better. Westbrook hit three threes off the dribble tonight, and scored another five times at the rim in transition and around screens. But Westbrook failed on two post-ups, and missed a few other shots in the paint. Westbrook made a couple of bad decisions, mostly related to finding guys in the corner off the roll. Rubio probably made all of his three threes because Westbrook was otherwise occupied. But really, it's hard to blame Russ for the loss.
  • Serge Ibaka, 0fer. Three of those missed shots were in the first, and Ibaka just provided nothing after that. The best I can say about Ibaka's game is that he had one transition stop. Other than that, Ibaka wasn't particularly good against Towns or Dieng. Ibaka gave Dieng too much space, and was fooled by Towns off the dribble game. Really unfortunate, given that Ibaka is usually a big offensive contributor.
  • Enes Kanter had 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting, and 6 offensive rebounds! Superb game from that perspective. Kanter got most of his scores getting position in transition or waiting at the rim while other players drove. But there was one particularly impressive skyhook that Kanter managed over Towns. Kanter also was able to score on two offensive rebounds after free throws, which kinda blew my mind. Defensively, Kanter was actually solid tonight. I counted two baskets allowed and two baskets deterred. Kanter was particularly good in the Twin Towers lineup with Steven Adams in the first half. Disappointing that we didn't get to see more of that.
  • Andre Roberson had one score at the rim, missed two other shots at the rim, and missed a corner three. Other than that, a very uneventful 14 minutes in the first half. Coming out of the locker room, the Thunder declared Roberson out with a sprained ankle.
  • Steven Adams had a hook over Towns, a putback over Towns, a open dunk created by Westbrook, and another shot at the rim. A respectable 4 of 5 night from Adams from the field. Adams was consistently effective as a rim protector, though not against Towns specifically. Towns was able to hit a couple of jumpers against Adams, as well as beat him to the rim once. But Adams had four blocks on the game, and other stops still.
  • Kyle Singler, 1 of 2 from two. A missed cutting banking layup, as well as a made layup in transition. Singler was also 0 of 4 from three. Disappointing, to say the least. Somehow, Singler was +15 at the half. I saw Singler stop a couple Mohammed post ups, but really nothing remarkable.
  • Anthony Morrow, 1 of 2 from two, 0 of 6 from three. Morrow's stock from three is so low that Westbrook literally ignored Morrow and took a shot himself. Morrow's made shot was a lucky opportunity where he got to the rim. Morrow's missed two was in the final minute of action. Morrow attempted to take a shot into his defender after receiving a swing pass. I saw Muhammad score on Morrow once in the post, not much else.
  • Randy Foye, 2 of 3 from two, 1 of 5 from three. At least one three went in. Foye's scores were a couple of instances of him turning the corner on his opponent on the weak side. Foye never really did anything fantastic when handling the ball himself. Sounds like a two guard to me.... Foye's defense was acceptable.
  • Nick Collison was an invaluable defender, as he read Minnesota's screens perfectly. There was a couple of time where Towns was able to power past Collison, but Towns had the size advantage. Still, when you put Collison's game together, I counted eight defensive stops. That's serious business. Also loved Collison's no look pass to KD at the rim in the game's closing moments.
  • So much hustle from Gorgui Dieng. Nothing too complex, but Dieng was able to get 11 free throws just running to the rim. Dieng was also 2 of 4 when left alone in mid-range, and had three scores down low. Dieng is a third pass guy, meaning the Thunder were really struggling to put pressure around the initial play.
  • Rubio had 3 steals tonight, and probably could have had 5 or 6. Also, Rubio had 12 assists to just 0 turnover. A basketball IQ wunderkind.
  • KD wore his new sockless shoe tonight. It will never slip off again!
  • Westbrook with 37 minutes, KD with 38. Meh.
  • Waiters was out tonight, still grieving.
  • The loss drops OKC to just two games above the Clips.

Marina's Awards

Thunder Wonder: Nick Collison, defensive master

Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, stable offensive force

Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka, foul trouble, bad D, and the 0fer

Thunder Plunderer: Ricky Rubio, 13 points, 12 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 steals, and one game-winning shot

Next Game: Versus the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 11th, 7:30 PM Central Standard Time.

What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!