Minnesota fell to 1-4 tonight after a disappointing all-around performance against Oklahoma City, who improves to 5-1.
1st Quarter: The Thunder owned the paint in the early game, with many of their points coming from the inside. The Timberwolves were able to hold Russell Westbrook at bay on the scoring end. However, he was able to find his teammates all over the court and tallied 5 assists.
Despite a sluggish and sloppy effort on the offensive end, Minnesota was able to keep it within a 7-point deficit. Karl-Anthony Towns provided the lone spark, with 13 points, including an open three early on. The Wolves struggled to put productive possessions together, leaving them in a small deficit.
2nd Quarter: Oklahoma City continued their dominance early in the 2nd quarter against the Timberwolves bench. Shabazz Muhammad again looked great entering the game, with two early, well-contested baskets in the paint.
The Timberwolves were finally able to find a rhythm, scoring 6 unanswered midway through the quarter, closing the gap to 3. KAT eventually tied the game with a second-chance board that turned into an and-one opportunity, and gave his team their first lead of the game after the conversion.
Fouls and turnovers killed the Minnesota run, and Russell Westbrook turned on the scoring. A three followed shortly by a thunderous dunk woke up the entire offense, opening the lead back up to 6 at the half.
3rd Quarter: A quick two followed by a Westbrook technical foul started the 2nd half in a positive light for the Wolves, but the lazy transition defense and poor shot selection prevented the Timberwolves from taking advantage of the early momentum.
Both teams were fairly stagnant throughout the middle of the quarter, with neither getting anything going until the Thunder opened their lead to double digits on a feed from Russell Westbrook to a wide open Victor Oladipo for a corner three as a part of a 18-1 run.
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Jerami Grant’s coast-to-coast windmill dunk around three Timberwolves was the defining moment of the quarter. Minnesota couldn’t stop anyone defensively, especially in transition. The Wolves couldn’t buy a bucket outside of Towns, so they were forced into that position frequently.
4th Quarter: We saw a lot of the Thunder reserves as the game came to a close, but the Timberwolves still couldn’t manage to close the gap. The offense continued to look rusty. One would think that a floor without Westbrook, Roberson, and Adams would allow Minnesota to compete and get back in the game, but that wasn’t the case.
In one bright spot for the Wolves, Tom Thibodeau got to dig deep into his bench and allow guys like Jordan Hill and John Lucas III some minutes.
Story of the Night: Minnesota looked young throughout most of the evening. Every time they got something going, a silly turnover or a questionable foul would swing the momentum in the opposite direction. Oklahoma City looked like a team full of veterans, moving the ball well along the perimeter, taking open shots, and feeding the paint.
Talent-wise, these two teams are right on par with one another. However, it was clear tonight that this young roster still has a lot of growing to do. They need to learn to set the offense and find better shots on a more frequent basis rather than playing one-on-one and relying on one man to lead the offense. This was yet another performance where the team looked good in the first half, but fell apart in the second. This trend will have to end if this team hopes to compete in the conference throughout the remainder of the season. I know it’s early, but this trend is threatening to become a habit.
Star of the Night: The obvious choice may be Russell Westbrook, but I’m going with Steven Adams. Although Enes Kanter’s final box score was better, Adams led the charge throughout the first three quarters, and seemed to stymie any runs the Timberwolves made. Adams’ 14 points and 8 rebounds were vital to keeping the Thunder ahead in the early quarters, especially with Westbrook’s slow offensive start in the first quarter.
Stat of the Night: Despite Karl-Anthony Towns amazing box score (33 points, 13-20 FG, 6 rebounds), he had a plus-minus of -19. It was a one man show out there for Minnesota. Towns was dominant against a pair of notable big men in Adams and Kanter tonight, which is good for him on an individual basis. However, in order for the Wolves to be successful, he will need help. Towns and Shabazz Muhammad were the only Timberwolves to score in double figures. Towns’ field goal percentage was 65%, while the rest of the team shot just 31%.
Notable Wolves Lines:
Shabazz Muhammad: 15 points, 6-9 FG, 3-3 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 block
Kris Dunn: 7 points, 2-8 FG, 3-6 FT, 3 assists, 4 rebounds
Andrew Wiggins: 7 points, 3-13 FG, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers
Gorgui Dieng: 8 points, 4-8 FG, 8 rebounds
Who’s next? The Timberwolves continue their roadtrip on Tuesday, and will look to bounce back against the Nets. The Nets are currently 2-4, so the Timberwolves are looking to take care of business against a team that is having struggles of its own.