Wednesday’s game is a perfect example of why you play all 48 minutes of the contest.
After the first quarter, the T-Wolves had amassed a 40-22 advantage rather quickly without much resistance. The Thunder looked lethargic and indecisive early and the front-court looked in awe of the recent successes that breakout player, Kevin Love, has been having. Coming off 7 straight 15 rebound games, Love continued that trend tonight amassing 21 boards while also contributing 22 points as well. This budding young superstar is finally getting the chance for significant minutes and a secured starting role now that the Wolves traded Center Al Jefferson to the Utah Jazz in the off-season.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that OKC was able to establish a consistent offensive attack and really get things going from their half-court set. Marking Durant all night was Michael Beasley, who is getting used to a new team-role in Minnesota also. Durant hit on three patented 15 foot jumpers over his over-matched defender and Russell Westbrook began to distribute the ball like fans are accustomed to seeing in ’10. Minnesota’s set plays often tried to free Wes Johnson on multiple “off-ball” defender screens and allow Beasley to get open looks from 10-12 feet. Early dominance and a 15 point first quarter from Kevin Love were the stories of this half and the teams ended the at a score of 64-53 , in favor of the Wolves.
For Beasley, his new home in Minnesota didn’t follow a traditional road that most players take to a new trade. After the entrance of Lebron & Bosh to South Beach, the Miami Heat didn’t have much room for Beasley and his under-achieving numbers, rehab-stints and huge rookie contract. Beasley has received a new lease on his career it seems however, as he’s now in the top 20 overall in league scoring and is able to play effective defense at his natural position.
As the third quarter got underway, the Thunder began to heat up from the outside and establish a serious perimeter game from Durant and Westbrook, swinging the ball to Thabo Sefolosha and Harden when necessary. Coach Brooks had to have motivated his troops by reminding them of their season worst 35.4% FG pct output from Monday’s nine point loss to the Bulls. It seemed as if the Timberwolves were playing to try play overly conservative in the paint and it cost them dearly in terms of momentum and tempo. T-Wolves main scorers Wesley Johnson and Beasley lost confidence in their shot as they both misfired on four plus shots a piece in the third period.
It’s tough to pinpoint when momentum swings exactly occur, but at the 9:45 mark in the third, Westbrook completed a thunderous alley-oop to his running-mate Durant and we never turned back. As the Thunder’s hot-streak pressed on in the third and into the fourth quarters, the aforementioned duo of #0 & #35 began to aggressively feed off each other and take control of the game themselves. Westbrook was able to dominate all possible point-guard defensive match-ups that Wolves coach, Kurt Rambis tried to throw at him. It began with Luke Ridnour, then Sebastian Telfair who both failed greatly in containing him and preventing him from getting into the paint and making things happen.
The Thunder had tied it up by the time the third period had expired and momentum was certainly on OKC’s side. At this point, Beasley had missed 8 straight field goals & Kevin Love hadn’t scored since his 15 point output in the first quarter, going 2-13 since then. In the meanwhile, Durant and Westbrook had hid their offensive stride, while one of the team’s greatest defensive assets; Serge Ibaka, began to replicate his best Dikembe Mutombo impersonation. Alot of Minnesota’s sharp decline in second-half scoring had to do with the fact Serge had a career-high eight blocks on the night, six occuring in the final period where the Thunder put the lolely Timberwolves away.
OKC continued to show supreme athleticism and had continued success in exploiting Minnesota’s late-game weaknesses. With 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Thunder maintained a four point lead and that was as close as the Timberwolves would get. The final score ended as a 111-103 Thunder victory.
The Timberwolves are littered with young talent in Wes Johnson, Love, Beasley and will soon regain last year’s lottery pick Johnny Flynn of Syracuse. Love finished with 22 points, 21 rebounds and Beasley dropped 26 with a stellar performance. But as their 5-17 season record shows, they have a lot of improving to do as individual performances will get you so far.
With the road victory, the Thunder improved to 15-8 overall and 8-4 on the road.
Thunder statlines were as follows;
|OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER|
|Jeff Green, F||27||2-5||0-2||6-6||0||6||6||1||1||0||2||4||0||10|
|Kevin Durant, SF||40||11-23||3-7||5-6||0||11||11||6||1||1||5||6||-1||30|
|Nenad Krstic, C||12||2-2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||-7||4|
|Thabo Sefolosha, SG||30||4-6||1-1||4-4||0||6||6||2||2||1||0||1||+7||13|
|Russell Westbrook, PG||33||10-20||0-1||5-6||1||3||4||8||1||0||3||3||-1||25|
|Nick Collison, PF||23||3-3||0-0||0-0||0||7||7||1||0||1||0||4||+13||6|
|Eric Maynor, PG||16||2-7||1-4||2-2||1||0||1||3||0||0||1||1||+11||7|
|James Harden, G||25||1-4||1-2||3-3||0||2||2||6||1||1||2||2||+5||6|
|Serge Ibaka, PF||36||5-7||0-0||0-0||1||4||5||0||1||8||2||2||+13||10|
About the Author
Written by Austin DeJarnette
I'm a 25 year old recent graduate of The University of Oklahoma. I currently live in Tulsa, OK and am a self-admitted sports nut. I'm an avid baseball, football and basketball fan and love going to see live music. I love Sooner football and basketball, as well as NBA Western Conference, NFL football, MLB baseball and love attending home-games of the OKC Thunder.