Despite not having Kevin Love, who has now missed his second game with a mild concussion, the Wolves sfought valiantly against one of the elite teams in the NBA today led by MVP candidate Kevin Durant, the other Kevin. The Wolves fell to the Thunder 115-110.
The last time these two teams met, the game went into overtime. However, last night, there was one difference. A big difference. Kevin Love wasn’t there. But still, without their captain, the Wolves led by Michael Beasley’s 26 points, JJ Barea’s 24 points and 10 assists, and Anthony Randolph’s 22 points and 11 rebounds. Rookie forward Derrick Williams had a terrible game by scoring on 3 points in 0-4 shooting which allowed Randolph and Beasley, who both came off the bench, to get more playing time which they used productively. The lone inside presence of the Wolves in Nikola Pekovic had a solid game with 14 points and 13 rebounds who did most of the work inside with Kevin Love out.
As for the Thunder, the dynamic duo of Westbrook and Durant basically led the team from start to finish. Kevin Durant finished with 43 points while shooting an astounding 15-23 including 4-6 beyond the arc. Westbrook on the other hand tallied up 35 points and still managed to dish out 8 assists, which a point guard should do. 6th man of the year candidate, James Harden, didn’t show up at Target Center to play as he shot 0-8 from the three point strike and 1-11 overall. Big man Nick Collison came of the bench for the Thunder to give the dynamic duo a little support, which Harden was supposed to do. Collison scored 10 points and pulled down 8 rebounds which included 6 offensive rebounds which allowed the Thunder to have 2nd shot opportunities.
Throughout the entire 1st half the game was basically in no one’s hands. The Thunder lead the Timberwolves 59-58. At the start of the second half, the Thunder seemingly started to take over. The Thunder were able to build on their 1 point half time lead and added 10 points to that which resulted to a 73-62 lead with 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. However, a ferocious put back dunk by starting shooting guard Martell Webster would allow the Wolves to rally back into the game and not allow Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder have an easy night in Minneapolis. The Wolves were able to slice the 11 point lead to 4 after a Pekovic tip shot, but Russell Westbrook, not Durant, wouldn’t let that lead and momentum slip away heading into the pivotal 4th quarter. Westbrook would score the last 9 points for the Thunder including a buzzer beating pull-up jump shot which gave the Thunder a little bit of room (lead 86-80) and some energy going to the last quarter.
At the start of the 4th quarter, we all knew who would take over this game himself. Kevin Durant. The Durantula started off the 4th quarter with a 3 point play jumpshot which gave the Thunder an 89-80. From then on, Durant just put on an all around scoring performance. From jump shots to blow by dunks, Durant was simply unstoppable. Durant scored 19 of his 43 points in the 4th quarter. Despite everything Barea, Beasley, and Randolph did in the fourth quarter, all three Wolves were not able to match Durant. Although the Wolves were able to make a short run to cut an 8 point lead to 3 with 3 minutes left in the game, bad defense and great offense from Durant was just too much for the Wolves. After Beasley cut the lead to 3 (110-107) with under 30 seconds left in the game, the Thunder didn’t call timeout but found an open Durant who decided not to take the ball up slowly but to run which ended with a break away dunk which basically sealed the deal. After the loss and the Wolves’ 9th loss in a row, the Wolves were eliminated from playoff contention.
The next game for the Timberwolves will be against the red hot Memphis Grizzlies where the Wolves look to snap their 9 game losing streak.
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