Timberwolves interim head coach Terry Porter was looking to go 2-0 as the Wolves took on divisional foe Oklahoma City. Rick Adelman missed his second straight games due to personal reasons. The Wolves entered the game with news Kevin Love would need surgery on his right hand and miss 8-10 weeks. The Wolves also got an update on Chase Budinger and that news is he would also be out for yet another 2 months. If that news wasn’t enough on the Wolves injury front, JJ Berea missed the game due to back spasms. All in all that it was just another day for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Wolves used their 10th different lineup of the season withstarting Pek, Cunningham, Kirilenko, Shved and Luke. The Thunder on the other hand started the same 5 they’ve used all season, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder were looking to avenge their 99-93 loss earlier this season in Minneapolis. Early on the Wolves went to their bread and butter, points in the paint. While the Wolves were able to open the scoring with Nikola Pekovic, for some reason Kendrick Perkins thought it was a good idea to get into Peks face. The small confrontation of Pek and Perk drew a double technical, and set the tone for how this game was going to be early on. The Wolves did a great job early on moving the ball, scoring 6 buckets on 4 assists. With 2:53 to play in the opening quarter the Wolves were holding the Thunder to 37.1% shooting and held a 1 point advantage 14-13. To close out the 1st quarter the Wolves defense continued to play strong and held the Thunder to 28.6% shooting and a 16 all score. The Wolves weren’t shooting much better, as they managed to post a 33.3% fg% in the opening period of play.
Starting the 2nd quarter the Wolves finally sat Pek and AK who played the entire first quarter. Cunningham, who also played the entire 1st quarter, started the 2nd period along with Stiemsma, Williams, Shved and Rubio. The Thunder started the quarter with Thabeet, Jackson, Durant, Liggins and Martin. Both teams played almost completely equal in every single category through the first 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter except for 3’s, where the Wolves were 1-4 and the Thunder were 4-8, which gave them a 27-22 lead. The Thunder were able to open the lead up to 7 (29-22) on a 7-0 run that was stopped when Shved managed to steal the ball form Jackson and take it to for a breakaway dunk. It was not enough to spark the Wolves as Russell Westbrook alone went on a 5-0 run to open the Thunder lead to 10 (34-24) with 5:37 to play in the 1st half. The Thunder managed to open the lead all the way to 11, 40-29 with 3:59 to play in the half. The Wolves wouldn’t go quietly, they countered with a 10-2 run of their own and closed the Thunder lead down to 4, 40-36 with 2:53 left in the half. The Wolves managed to tie the score with 1:13, but The Thunder were too much and closed out the 2nd quarter scoring 5 straight and lead the Wolves 47-42 at the half.
It was glaringly obvious the Wolves missed JJ Berea, and when Pek, Cunningham and AK went off the floor, it was a different team. Both teams managed to increase their shooting over the 2nd quarter, as the Wolves improved to 41% and the Thunder up to 39.5%. Both teams had 8 turnovers and the Thunder had a slight advantage in rebounds, 23-21. The Thunder were still shooting 50% from 3 (5-10), while the Wolves were just 3-8.
Both teams started the 3rd with the same 5 they started the game with. Kevin Durant and co, were much more aggressive in the 3rd both offensively and defensively. Oklahoma continued to steadily increase their lead throughout the 3rd quarter, both increasing their fg%, 45.6% and their lead. Westbrook started to take over the game in the 3rd quarter, scoring 7 points and helped open up the Thunder lead all the way to 15 with 1:36 to play in the 3rd. Unlike the game at The Target Center, the Thunder had Kevin Martin this time around, and he was what was missing the 1st go around between these 2 teams, which equaled bench production for the Thunder. Martin had 11 points through 3 quarters and 5 straight points to close out the 3rd quarter, giving the Thunder a 12 point lead, 76-64, going into the 4th quarter.
As the 4th quarter started the Wolves started to look tired, playing the 2nd of a back to back, and the Thunder opened up an 18 point lead (85-68), with 9:08 to play in the game. Lou Amundson checked into the game at 7:59 left to play for the Wolves. After such a great shooting night for the Wolves on Tuesday, they struggled from beyond the arc against the Thunder, proving once again it is tough to win when the 3 ball isn’t falling, making the defense play honest. Derrick Williams, who played so well against Atlanta, was unable to string 2 games together as he was 7-15 for a -23 on the night. The Wolves really lacked energy in the 2nd half, and that could be even more of an issue as they have 3 games left in their 4 game road trip during this 5 game in 6 day stretch. The Thunder were just more than the depleted Wolves were able to handle on Wednesday, as they pulled off a 106-84 victory.
Lazar Hayward scored his first points of the season.
Ricky played more than the typical 20 minutes he has been limited too, he got 22.
After playing the entire 1st quarter, Pek finished the game with 27 minutes, AK 29 minutes and Cunningham with 32 minutes.
The Wolves will only get 1 day off before they take on the Hornets in New Orleans on Friday with a 7 o’clock tip.