The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their first win of the preseason on Friday night in Minnesota, beating the Timberwolves by a final score of 113-101. Boosted by the return of Paul George, who missed Wednesday’s preseason opener due to personal reasons, the Thunder put forth a more complete effort en route to toppling their Northwest Division rivals.
George led the way for the Thunder with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in 26 minutes — shooting 7-of-18 in the process. Steven Adams was next up with 14 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Dennis Schroder added 12 points and 6 assists. The Thunder had five men score in double figures — building an 11-point lead after one quarter and never trailing in the contest.
The Thunder returns to action on Sunday afternoon in Tulsa, taking on Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. That game tips at 2:30 P.M. CST and will be televised on NBA TV.
45.3: The Thunder shot 45.3 percent from the floor, compared to 40.7 percent for the Wolves.
29.6: Not the most efficient night from downtown for OKC. The team shot 8-of-27, good for 29.6 percent.
+18: The Thunder won 57-39 on the glass. That will work.
+10: The offensive rebounding numbers were 16-6 in favor of the Thunder. Seven of those belonged to Steven Adams.
7 & 7: The Thunder recorded 7 steals and 7 blocks in the contest.
+10: OKC won the fast break battle by a final tally of 12-2.
+14: The Thunder took a 58-44 advantage in the paint.
22: The Thunder’s biggest lead of the night was 22.
George: 23 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 7/18 FG, 2/6 3P, 26 MP, +8
Adams: 14 pts, 13 reb, 7/11 FG, 25 MP, +12
Schroder: 12 pts, 6 ast, 2 stl, 5/16 FG, 27 MP, +9
Noel: 12 pts, 9 reb, 4 blk, 4/5 FG, 21 MP, +6
Grant: 12 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl, 3/8 FG, 23 MP, +12
Abrines: 10 pts, 4/7 FG, 2/5 3P, 15 MP, +6
Diallo: 8 pts, 6 reb, 2 stl, 3/8 FG, 23 MP, -1
Felton (8 pts), Ferguson (6 pts), Patterson (3 pts), Alford (3 pts), Burton (2 pts)
Paul George full highlights:
Dennis Schroder full highlights:
DNPs: Everyone on the roster saw action except for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and KJ McDaniels. Luwawu-Cabarrot was a bit of a surprise but he should be fine. This was the second consecutive DNP for McDaniels.
The 2-Guards: As mentioned above, neither Luwawu-Cabarrot or McDaniels saw any floor time in this one. Terrance Ferguson made the start and was impressive at times on the defensive end despite scoring only 6 points. Diallo was probably the most impressive — albeit quite raw — on his way to an 8-point effort. Alex Abrines was limited due to a recent back injury but still finished with 10 points in 15 minutes. Bryce Alford was the only other SG to receive playing time, scoring 3 points in 2 minutes.
Burton: Deonte Burton made his pre-season debut and I would have included him in the shooting guard discussion — but, honestly, I don’t know exactly what he is just yet. The rookie out of Iowa State had 2 points, 4 rebounds, and a block in 11 minutes. I don’t know that he’ll carve out a role for himself this season, but his motor never stops and he’s a lot of fun to watch.
Rejoice: Nerlens Noel bounced back from a forgettable preseason opener to score 12 points and grab 9 rebounds in 21 minutes of action. He’s going to make a massive impact on this team — particularly on the defensive end. He recorded 4 blocks tonight but did commit 4 turnovers.
Return of PG13: Paul George made his preseason debut and looked good in his 26 minutes. He came out aggressive and scored 11 points in the first quarter — a large part of the 11-point lead after the first.
Silent Schroder: Dennis Schroder again struggled mightily in the mid-range, shooting just 1-of-7 after an abysmal night in the mid-range on Wednesday. His 12 points and 6 assists don’t stand out, and he committed 5 turnovers as well, but it’s going to take some time to smooth this thing out. I’m not concerned with his 16 field goal attempts because that’s what the preseason is for — but something tells me it will take some time to reign him in once Russell Westbrook is back in the mix.
Battle of the Bigs: Steven Adams and Karl Anthony-Towns had their customary battle at the center position. KAT did his thing and finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes. Adams had no trouble taking it to Minnesota’s big man on the other end, chipping in 14 points and 13 rebounds — 7 of which came on the offensive glass. Steve looks good so far this preseason.
Paging Patrick Patterson: Just 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting for Patrick Patterson. He did add 9 rebounds and a block and wrapped up as a +4 in 24 minutes — but you’d really like to see George and Schroder find the big man in position to shoot more often. He also needs to be more aggressive, which is an opinion he shares himself.
Final Thoughts: Even though it counts for absolutely nothing, this was a nice win for the Thunder in Paul George’s return to action. It was good to see Noel and Grant bounce back a bit after quiet nights on Wednesday, and Diallo did just enough to make you wonder how much better Ferguson will actually be by the end of the season. With two more preseason opportunities before diving into the real thing, the Thunder will look to build on tonight’s victory and continue working out the kinks on Sunday against the Hawks.