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This felt like a game the Thunder might lose.
No Danilo Gallinari, Terrance Ferguson, Nerlens Noel, or Abdel Nader. And just for bookkeeping purposes, no Andre Roberson. Steven Adams got the last minute thumbs up from the Thunder training staff, but how healthy would he be? (Not very).
On the road on the second night of a back to back. Third game in four nights. Fifth game in eight nights.
The Thunder coming in with a 4 game win streak and the Wolves riding an 8 game losing streak. Was OKC was due for a letdown? And was Minnesota was due for a win?
And maybe the biggest reason of them all: Andrew Wiggins.
While Wiggins has been a disappointment since being drafted #1 overall in 2014, whenever he suits up against Oklahoma City, he looks every bit worthy of being selected over Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Zach Lavine, Clint Capela and Nikola Jokic. Those guys got nothing on Thunder killer Wiggins.
But not this season. This season has flipped every OKC narrative over on its head.
Having letdown games and losing to inferior opponents like the Timberwolves? Not this team. The Thunder have now won 9 straight games against teams below .500.
Throwing games away at the free throw line? Not this team. The Thunder hit 24 of 25 from the charity stripe last night.
Allowing Wiggins transform into prime MJ with a Steph Curry jumper? Not this team. In two games against the team he’s accustomed to bullying, Wiggins is a combined 12 of 30 for 32 points. And most importantly, two losses.
There were plenty of reasons why we could’ve expected a loss last night in Minnesota. But with this team, Thunder fans have learned to expect the unexpected.
- OKC has now won 5 straight games, the best streak in the West.
- OKC has won 9 of 10 road games for just the second time in Thunder history. The first time was in 2013, when the Thunder were the #1 seed in the West and had the most wins in OKC history.
- Big shout out to Thunder U Redeux. 19 year old Darius Bazley scored 15 points on 5/6 shooting. 20 year old Lu Dort scored 10 on 3/5 shooting. And 21 year old Hamidou Diallo had a 10/10 double double on 5/6 shooting. OKC doesn’t win last night without the young guns stepping up.
- The best of the bunch, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, had his worst night of the season with only 11 points on 3 of 14 shots. Great timing then, for his Thunder U classmates to have their best collective effort of the year.
- At one point earlier this season, Minnesota was 10-8 and looked like a young team on the cusp of the playoffs, while the Thunder were 6-11 and seemed to be headed straight to the tank. Amazing how quickly things can change in the NBA.
- Karl Anthony Towns hasn’t won a game since November. The all-world big man has lost 13 straight games.
- The Thunder are now 7-1 without Danilo Gallinari. Which makes zero sense whatsoever.
- Shabazz Napier had a triple double against OKC, and still all I can think of is how LeBron made the Miami Heat trade up to draft him and then split for Cleveland.
- I wish I could make a Vegas bet on whether or not Lu Dort gets a full contract this season or not, cause I’d put all my money on it. That’s a $140 risk I’m willing to take.
- Darius Bazley with double digit points in back to back games for the second time in his career.
- Deonte Burton got robbed on a layup that was goal tended with no call. The basketball gods were not pleased and allowed that awful 3 point shot to go in off the glass.
- Lu Dort has defended Andrew Wiggins, Trae Young and Evan Fournier the last three games. Those three players’ combined points in the first quarter: 0.
- That feeling of dread that washes over you when you realize the Thunder are playing against Andrew Wiggins… is completely calmed when you remember that Wiggins will be guarded by Lu Dort.
- Mike Muscala is now 11-16 from 3 point range in his last three games.
- Remember when we all thought Sam Presti went to Minnesota last summer because he was going to trade for Wiggins and how disappointed everyone was that it was a hometown visit with Muscala? Muscala tonight: 11 points on 6 shots. Wiggins tonight: 22 points on 18 shots. Just saying.
- At this point, I feel like the Thunder could start Chris Paul, Shai and three Starbucks baristas and pull out a dramatic 2 point win.
- Lu Dort being rewarded the post-game interview and getting trolled by Dennis Schroder is the perfect cherry on top to a 5-0 week of Thunder basketball.
- Chris Paul in the 4th quarter continues to be the living embodiment of clutch.
- Steven Adams had twice as many assists than he did points + rebounds combined. Unfortunately, he only had two assists and one rebound. For all the Algebra wizards out there, how many points did Steven Adams have?
- Lu Dort now just needs 33,585 points to pass LeBron James for #3 on the all-time scoring list.
- Up next: Luka Doncic and the Mavs in OKC on Monday night. And maybe an appearance from a masked Nerlens Noel.