The Thunder delivered us a Merry Christmas with a 112 – 100 win over the Timberwolves. Russell Westbrook and the Stache bros led the Thunder charge with 73 combined points. The Wolves had absolutely no answer for Thunder in the paint again as they put up 58 points inside, after giving up 70 in the first contest earlier this year. Russell was able to penetrate at will with Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn guarding him for a majority of the night, while Kanter and Adams dominated in the post. The big men were also in the giving mood this Christmas, as they continued to pass well out of the paint (especially Kanter with 4 assists), which is a huge asset for this Thunder team who have lacked good ball movement at times this season.
The pick and roll between Adams and Russ was on tonight and ended in a few huge finishes for Steve. When they can get the PNR going against teams, it is really fun to watch.
Russell played a great all-around game, going for 31-15-7. He’s averaging 41.0 points over the past 4 games, that’s insane. I know it’s been said by pretty much everyone, but what he’s doing on the basketball court lately is simply amazing. He started off the game missing a few around the rim that he normally makes, but he got hot in the second quarter and made some absolutely ridiculous passes (per usual). Including this one on the fast break to Kanter.
The Timberwolves had no way to even remotely slow down the Thunder point guard as he got to his spots and was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted until he checked out of the game with two minutes left in the 4th and the game pretty much wrapped up.
Russ received help from the bench again tonight, as they combined for 50 points and were a +33. Along with Kanter off the bench, Alex Abrines had another solid night going for 10 points on 3-7 from 3. He hit one deep 3 that got the OKC crowd off their feet, and had the Thunder bench going wild.
As for Minnesota, in the first game against the Thunder earlier this year, Karl Anthony Towns didn’t get much help from his other scoring counterparts in Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins. But they helped him out tonight combing for 39 points. The Wolves 3 key guys were able to score, but as a team, they couldn’t stop the Thunder’s offensive attack. This Wolves’ team has some issues on defense, and that being Coach Tom Thibodeau’s strength, could a be a case for his early removal if he can’t get that part of their game turned around.
But back to KAT, this dude is an absolute beast down low. He finished with 26 points going 10-20 from the field and tacked on 8 rebounds. He was pushing Adams around down low at times, moving him out of the way and finishing. That’s impressive to watch especially with how physical Adams plays and how strong his defense is down low.
The Wolves didn’t get much outside of Towns, LaVine and Wiggins. Their bench, which hasn’t provided much offensive fire power all season, combined for 26 points. You’re not going to win many games with that performance.
Overall, the Wolves are fun to watch, especially in the first half tonight when they were running and moving the ball, but they just can’t seem to get everything clicking. Their season has been a disappointment with all the hype they had coming into this year. They have a lot of young talent and KAT is going to be a good one (I mean, he already is), but they just don’t have it right now.
- I liked both team’s jerseys tonight. The Thunder’s actually sort of resembled the Timberwolves’ blue jerseys.
- There was some excitement involving Russ before the game.
- Wiggins, who had a poor showing against the Thunder in their first meeting, really had it going early on. He had Morrow on him at times, and was getting whatever he wanted on the Thunder sharpshooter.
- The game was back and forth throughout the entire first half. Russ wasn’t able to get into a rhythm early on offense and KAT and Wiggins were doing work for the Wolves. There were a lot of lead changes and it looked like this one had the potential to go down to the wire until the Thunder opened in up in the second half.
- Sabonis showed the most emotion I’ve ever seen from him on his awesome dunk in the first half.
- Kanter’s passing lately has been tremendous. When teams bring the double he’s able to find the open man outside for 3 or cutting through the lane. It’s nice to see the big man creating outside of scoring and offensive boards.
- Thibs is always so raspy and hoarse in his interviews, but him being sick made it 10 times worse.
- In the first half, the Thunder were letting the Timberwolves catch the ball so low in the paint. You can’t let guys get that type of positioning on you. That will almost always end up in points or a foul if you let a guy catch the ball that deep.
- Russ got a T. He now has 8.
- Semaj with another quarter ending buzzer beater. How long before Billy D draws something up for him in a game ending situation?
- The Thunder shot well tonight, 51.2% from the field.
- After Russel’s pass to Kanter on the fast break shown above, he high fived a kid sitting front row. It was a really awesome moment and really fun to watch on TV.
- This is pretty weird, but I like it
- The Thunder are now 5-2 on Christmas day.
Next Up: On Tuesday in Miami at 6:30 pm CST