Rinsed and repeated: OKC gives one away to the Wolves, 99-96
It was Freudian from the Mel Latorre, pastor of North MacArthur Church of Christ who was giving Friday’s invocation before the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the struggling but peppy Minnesota Timberwolves. He prayed for no energy, but meant to say no injuries. The former turned out to be prophetic.
It was 13-4, Wolves, after a few minutes. The Thunder had eight turnovers in the first quarter. They shot 5-23. Yeah, the score was 24-21, Wolves, but we should’ve seen the writing on the wall.
Really, there were roughly 400 moments where I said, “OK, that’s gotta be it.” Instead, the Wolves hung around. After a burst that put OKC up seven in the fourth, back came the Wolves. After that backdoor dunk that put OKC up four with 50 seconds left, back came the Wolves. Really, at no point did I actually think the Thunder were losing this game until Karl Towns hit that jumper with 16 seconds left to put them up two. Even then, I fully expected a rescue by the Thunder to save face.
Instead, adorable little Ricky Rubio daggered the Thunder with 0.2 seconds left.
It’s almost comical at this point. To watch the Thunder play one way one night, and look like the kind of team that’s straightening out, finding itself and finally gearing up to play their best basketball of the season, to then be the kind of team that loses at home to the Timberwolves.
I just. I don’t. I can’t.
The issue, again, was turnovers. This time, 24 of them. Kevin Durant, who had six, took the blame for them, as well as the loss.
“It’s all on me. It’s all my fault,” he said. “It’s contagious. I’m a leader. Everybody expects me to be on my game every night. So I take full responsibility for it.
“I’ve got to be better. Overall, I’ve got to be better in every part of the game,” he said. “I can’t turn the ball over. I’ve got to shoot better shots. I’ve got to rebound better. I’ve got to make the right play every time. I’ve got to be better at encouraging my teammates. I’ve got to be better at breathing life into my teammates, cheering for them. So I take full responsibility for it. It’s my fault. Wish I could take all of them back, man. I’ve just got to watch film and see where I can be better. But I’ve got to control those turnovers because it’s bleeding into the rest of the team and as a leader, I take full responsibility.”
Durant was hardly to blame, and while sure, he has to be better and has to value the ball more, he has also been spectacular the last three weeks. But even through a bad loss and a distressing game from him, he said everything you could want him to say. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve got Serge Ibaka sitting over there who had six fouls in 20 minutes with zero points and two rebounds.
To me, it’s just whatever at this point. Which team’s showing up? I don’t know. They’re probably going to get beat by the Spurs, probably in a decently close game where they have a lead at some point in the fourth quarter and end up getting beat by like 11. They’re just one big head-scratch right now, a team that’s 4-7 after the All-Star break but could very easily be 8-3 with a string of very nice wins. There’s something up with them, and while it feels too easy to just point at all the distractions around the team right now, maybe there’s more to that than we think.
- Whose man hit that 3? You know whose man hit that 3.
- So, why were three players inactive tonight? The team’s explanation was that McGary played last night for the Blue, then had recovery today, and to be available again tomorrow needed rest. Or something. Whatever.
- With the foul trouble, combined with Ibaka’s ineffectiveness, Enes Kanter needed more than 20 minutes. Could be some growing frustration there. Something to watch.
- By the way, Kanter: 17 points on 7-9 shooting and 14 rebounds in 21 minutes.
- Andre Roberson tweaked his left ankle and didn’t play in the second half. Randy Foye started in his spot. Status for tomorrow is unknown.
- Steven Adams went to work on Karl Towns in the second half, and by went to work, I mean he tried to get in his head big time. Don’t think it worked.
- Russ is the first person in history that doesn’t find Ricky Rubio to be an adorable koala bear.
- I just really feel like typing this sentence: Serge Ibaka stunk tonight.
- That’s 50 straight games for Durant with 20 points. Fifty! And the only one he didn’t get to 20 this season was the one he played just a half because of a that hamstring pull. Amazing.
- It really felt like Sam Mitchell was just talking to no one in particular the entire game. Almost like I was the only person in the world that could see him, It’s A Wonderful Life style.
- So when does Adreian Payne become Mo Speights?
- Would you like to know what rust looks like? Anthony Morrow has it for you. After missing his first three 3s, he then missed his first two free throws.
- You’re not gonna like this, but you know who the Thunder missed tonight? Yep, Steve Novak, I’m just kidding, Dion Waiters. He would’ve been helpful against the Wolves’ guards, and might’ve come up with some offense. Or maybe he would’ve made it worse. That’s the thing with Dion: You never really know.
- Important: Billy Donovan accidentally called Ricky Rubio “Marco Rubio” pregame. I think this had to have had some bearing on the outcome.
- Single-game plus-minus is dumb, but I just want to say Nick Collison was a +12.
- Durant on if they looked ahead to the Spurs: “They were better than us tonight. No way around it. We didn’t look forward. We didn’t think about the next game. They were just better than us. We turned the ball over. Like I said, we’ve got to be better. I had six of them with one assist. That’s just… terrible. We didn’t look forward. We just didn’t play well tonight.”
- Shooting 6-27 from 3 was not helpful.
- Durant is getting pretty frustrated with some of the non-calls not going his way.
- I really have no idea what happened on the goaltend with 12 seconds left. It seemed to me that after realizing what a bad initial call it was and how it would wipe out the tying bucket, they “changed” the review to look at if Adams goaltended it. Someone mentioned that they’re allowed to go with a continuation of sorts on those plays now. Maybe that was it. Either way, it was confusing.
Next up: At the Spurs on Saturday