For the Thunder, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who cleared health and safety protocols a few days ago. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves saw the return of D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The first quarter was a disaster for the Thunder. First, they fell behind 16-4, only four minutes into the game. Then, they saw themselves down 20 points by the end of the quarter.
Oklahoma City had ten points and ten turnovers in the first quarter.
“We got off to a slow start because of some uncharacteristic turnovers, but I think we were able to recalibrate and get back in the game,” Interim Head Coach Mike Wilks said.
Yet, as this young Thunder team always does, they kept fighting. Oklahoma City opened the second period with a 11-3 scoring run to cut into the lead. This run would lead to a 13 point deficit at halftime.
Having put themselves in striking distance, the Thunder kept chipping away at the Timberwolves’ lead. By time the fourth quarter came, Oklahoma City was down just six points.
In the fourth, the Thunder would pull as close as one point, trailing 82-81 with just over five minutes remaining.
It was the rookie Josh Giddey hitting big shots for the Thunder. The rookie’s confidence was sky high coming off his first triple double performance on Sunday.
“Josh is a competitor and looks to make winning plays,” Wilks said. “Those were some big shots down the stretch and I like how he continues to grow.”
But ultimately it was Patrick Beverley who stuck the dagger in the Thunder’s comeback. Beverley had a season high 20 points in tonight's game.
Oklahoma City would lose 98-90, making it their fourth straight road loss.
The Good and The Bad
On the offensive end the Thunder struggled. Gilgeous-Alexander was inefficient in his first game out of protocols, scoring 19 points on 5-15 from the field.
Also, Oklahoma City shot 36% from the field and 25% from three as a team. Despite the offensive woes, the Thunder managed to play stifling defense.
Minnesota was held to 40% from the field and 27% from three. In addition, the Thunder forced 16 turnovers and generated a lot of points off turnovers.
Kenrich Williams said the defensive effort starting in the second quarter was the reason Oklahoma City was able to get back in the game.
“I think it was getting stops on the other end to help get into transition and I think we started doing that in second quarter,” Williams said.
The uptick in defense has shown itself recently. Including tonight the Thunder have not allowed an opponent to score over 100 points in three straight games.
These two teams will matchup again on Friday but this time at Paycom Arena.