Nick Gallo recaps last night’s loss to the Timberwolves: “In the second half of the Thunder’s 104-88 loss to its Northwest Division rival on Wednesday, the Timberwolves knocked down 21-of-34 (61.8 percent) second half shot attempts while the Thunder managed just 14 makes on 40 attempts (35 percent). The margin was even more stark at the three-point line, where Minnesota made 5-of-7 shots and the Thunder made only 3-of-15. In general, the Thunder got the types of looks it wants, catch-and-shoot attempts for Carmelo Anthony and shots off movement for Paul George, yet the perennial All-Star duo hit just 10-of-33 shots combined.”
Russell Westbrook discusses the loss. Via NBA TV:
Jimmy Butler had a funny reaction when asked about Steven Adams after the game: “That mother f***** is strong. Like, I’m serious. He hit me with one screen today and I thought my life was over.”
Reid Forgrave (CBS) compares the Wolves & Thunder moving forward: “The Timberwolves moved the ball better (22 assists to OKC’s 13), shot the ball better (48.8 percent from the field to OKC’s 40.5), took care of the ball better (14 turnovers to OKC’s 19) and, amazingly, defended better. This wasn’t like the early-season Andrew Wiggins banked-in buzzer-beater in OKC; this was the Wolves continuing a great streak of basketball that has them on a six-game home winning streak and 14-7 overall since Dec. 1. Over the past five weeks, the Wolves have looked like one of the NBA’s best teams. And the Thunder looked like they have all season: an inconsistent collection of individual talents who haven’t figured out how to fit together.”
Berry Tramel on the Thunder moving the wrong direction in the playoff race: “Remember just a couple of weeks ago, when OKC had risen to fifth and was on the verge of catching Minnesota for the fourth slot in the Western Conference, with designs on San Antonio for third? Well, after another dispiriting loss, 104-88 at Minnesota, the Thunder is looking in the other direction. The Clippers’ 125-106 win at short-handed Golden State lifted LA to a 19-21 record. The Clippers, in ninth place in the West, are only one game back of the 22-20 Thunder in the loss column. The Thunder is 4-1/2 games behind the Timberwolves. OKC is as close to 10th (Utah 17-24) as it is to fourth.”
Noah Torr (USA Today) on the Thunder defense without Andre Roberson: “Since December 29, the Thunder have played six games. In those six games, they have the 26th rated defense, a 112.3 rating, and the 3rd highest offensive rating at 113.2. Compare those numbers to the whole season—105.9 on offense and 103.2 on defense—and it’s painfully clear Roberson’s impact is missed on the defensive end of the floor. The team is essentially allowing 9.1 more points per 100 possessions without him.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) on what every team should do at the trade deadline: “Lineup tweaks are an option, but moving Paul George to the 2 and trusting Carmelo Anthony to guard small forwards is risky. A downsized look with Raymond Felton joining Russell Westbrook in the backcourt could work on offense, but that would put defensive minuses at both guard spots. If the Thunder can figure out how to snag Bazemore from Atlanta or Lee from the Knicks, they’ll have a better shot at doing postseason damage.”
Jeff Eisenband (The PostGame) on Gary Payton saying he paved the way for Kyrie & Russ: “Yeah, the Westbrooks and Kyries are like me, everybody is like that. I think that I was ahead of my time because I was more of a scoring point guard than most of the point guards during that day. I mean, Tim Hardaway was probably the only point guard that scored. Kevin Johnson did it a little bit.”
Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood podcast: Discussing the Thunder defense, Paul George’s future, possible trade deals, and more with Bleacher Report’s Jon Hamm.
Around the League: Kevin Durant is the second-youngest player to score 20,000 career points…. Lou Williams dropped a 50-piece and ruined KD’s big night…. Isaiah Thomas was fined $20k for his hit on Andrew Wiggins…. Steph Curry has a “non-serious” foot injury…. Rodney Hood was ejected and slapped a fan’s phone to the ground on his way out…. Where are the NBA trade rumors?