The Oklahoma City Thunder returned to the court on Friday night for a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The game marked PaulGeorge’s preseason debut and gave the Thunder a much needed defensive boost. George’s return, a stifling defensive effort, and a lopsided rebounding battle helped the Thunder to a 113-101 victory.
The Thunder opened with a lineup of Steven Adams, Patrick Patterson, Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson, and PG. Patterson looks to begetting the early nod as the starting 4 for OKC and Ferguson is an option to be Andre Roberson’s replacement at the shooting guard spot. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was inactive in tonight’s game.
George instantly got into a groove offensively, finding open lanes for drives to the basket, and finding Adams in the paint for easy scores. Schroder is still finding his chemistry with his new teammates, but has shown great signs as a playmaker. When the Thunder turned to their bench, they did not miss a beat.
Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant both were aggressive and made the most of their opportunities around the basket. The length of Noel and Grant also made it tough for the Wolves to get any easy looks. The Thunder led 63-49 at the half and hovered around a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
OKC was able to control the boards, winning the rebound battle 57-39.They also forced 16 turnovers on the night and blocked seven shots.The Thunder shot 45% from the field and they only shot 19-of-26 from the free throw line. The free throw line is an area that the Thunder will need to improve upon this season. OKC’s defense was active and their length will be an issue for many teams.
George led the Thunder with a solid outing of 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Adams had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Schroder put in 12 points and dished 6 assists. Noel had a double-double off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jerami Grant also put up 12 points off the bench. Alex Abrines contributed 10 points. The Thunder bench scored 55 points overall.