No Russ? No problem.
When hearing earlier today that Andre Roberson, Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and most notably, Russell Westbrook weren’t going to see the floor tonight for the Thunder, I chalked this one up as loss number 35. But soon after tipoff in Minnesota, it was easy to see the Thunder had come to play. OKC led by as much as 22 in this one, and although they let Minnesota come clawing back in the second half, they were able to complete the victory thanks to a Victor Oladipo jumper in the closing seconds.
The Wolves came into this one on a 4-game losing streak. The young squad is closing out their season with just over 30 wins, on their way to another year without playoff basketball in Minnesota. Early on in this one, they definitely looked like a team ready to turn the page on this season and start looking forward to the next. The Wolves allowed the Westbrook-less Thunder to get whatever they wanted in the first quarter, finishing with 33 points, while the Wolves themselves finished with just 16. The Thunder were without several key defensive players, but who needs defense when Minnesota couldn’t buy a bucket? The story continued throughout the rest of the half, as the Thunder, led by Domas Sabonis (13, on 4 of 11) and… KYLE SINGLER (9, on 3 of 8), went to the locker room up 56 – 43.
The Wolves must have had some of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff at halftime because they looked like a completely different team in the 3rd quarter. Andrew Wiggins, who went 1 for 11 in the 1st half, came out extremely aggressive on offense and finished with 8 in the quarter. He got some much needed offensive help from Gorgui Dieng, who posted 9 of his own. The Thunder offense became stagnant and they went on a longgg shooting drought, as Minnesota had fought their way back to take the lead heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter saw both teams making runs, as the Thunder were led by Oladipo and Sabonis, and the Wolves were led by primarily by Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota took the lead on a long two from Dieng with a little over half a minute to play, and without Russ on the floor, who was going to step up in the clutch? That man, was Victor Oladipo. Vic took it himself and was able to create enough space to knock down what would be the game-winner, from just inside the 3-point line.
Now, I know it’s not as fun when Russ and some of the other key guys are out. But, man, what a great victory for this Thunder crew. It was a solid win, giving these guys some extra confidence heading into the playoffs.
- The Timberwolves unveiled a new logo tonight. I like it.
- Kanter did not have a good night. He struggled with Minnesota’s double team and you could tell he was frustrated early on. He could never find his touch around the rim, as he finished 3 of 10 from the field and missed some absolute bunnies. He did chip in 8 rebounds, but several of those were offensive in which he failed to convert on the second chance.
- Karl-Anthony Towns broke the Wolves single-season scoring record tonight (previously held by Kevin Love). That’s impressive for a 23-year-old.
- Sabonis looked awesome tonight. He finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. He didn’t have the best shooting night, going 6 for 16, but he moved the ball well, crashed the boards and had a few solid defensive possessions. Excited to see what the future holds for young Domas.
- Abrines saw some action tonight after missing the last 3 games with a knee strain.
- This Jerami Grant block was insane. That dude looks like he’s jumping off a trampoline out there.
- Norris Cole with 12 points off the bench. He made some good plays at the rim, but he seems to be a little out of control at times when he drives.
- Kyle Singler started out this game looking like he was going to get 30, finishing the first quarter with 9 points. He went on to score two more the rest of the game…
- Overall the Thunder didn’t shoot amazing (43.0% from the field, 31.8% from 3) and turned it over quite a bit (17), but they absolutely dominated the boards. They finished with 54 rebounds (18 offensive) and were +19 in this category.
- Vic on the playoffs:
Next Up: The Thunder’s final game of the season is at home against the Nuggets tomorrow night at 7:00 CST.