Although the game wasn’t ultimately decided by a Hail Mary bank shot like earlier in the week, tonight’s Thunder/Timberwolves match-up in Minnesota was long on drama. There were 31 lead changes, 15 ties, and an opportunity for Oklahoma City to send it to overtime as time expired. In the end, Carmelo Anthony’s potential game tying buzzer-beater misfired, and the Timberwolves escaped with a 119-116 victory.
The Thunder led by as many as 11 in the contest, and held a 109-107 advantage with 4:23 left to play. The T-Wolves then leaned on Jimmy Butler (who wasn’t being guarded by Andre Roberson) and he responded with several big buckets in crunch time. OKC shot 3/14 down the stretch, and it was too much to overcome in the end. The Thunder falls to 2-3, and 0-3 in Northwest Division play.
Let’s get into some stats, notes and highlights.
Rebounds, Assists, Etc
Forgot About Dre
Andre Roberson’s disappearing act continued tonight in Minnesota, as he logged just 10 minutes and pitched in 4 points, 3 rebounds and a 2/6 clip from the field. He didn’t see the court at all as Jimmy Butler scored 9 points in the final four minutes. In comparison, Josh Huestis saw 15 minutes, Jerami Grant received 27… but still hardly enough Dre.
His lack of playing time in both contests against Minnesota — with Andrew Wiggins, then Butler carrying them to victory — is a mystery. His offense is notoriously poor, but there is no happy medium in sight. He’s played 23 seconds in the fourth quarter through five games. That’s not enough.
For what it’s worth, Donovan said after the game that Roberson had “something going on with his ankle,” but was available if needed. He went with Huestis instead, and wrapped up his statement with “It was more so my decision than anything Andre did or didn’t do.”
Feels like talking it circles.
For just the second time in Thunder history, four players reached the 20-point scoring plateau. Here’s how it broke down for Westbrook, Anthony, George and Adams:
Westbrook: 27 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 8 turnovers, 10/18 FG, 1/3 3P, -13
Anthony: 23 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 8/15 FG, 1/5 3P, -7
George: 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 8/16 FG, 3/6 3P, -5
Adams: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 8/10 FG, -17
If you had told me before the game that those four would combine for 93 points on 57 percent shooting, I would have felt pretty comfortable betting my home on the Thunder. Alas — it was one of those nights. The rest of the team shot 33 percent, combined for 23 points, and the defense in its entirety couldn’t stop a nosebleed.
Crunch Time/Who Shoots It?
Billy D ran with an interesting lineup for most of crunch time, only altering for temporary offensive or defensive-oriented substitutions. The crunch time lineup in Minnesota consisted of Westbrook – George – Melo – Grant- and Steven Adams. It’s extremely long and athletic, but lacks the spacing/defense that a similar lineup with Patterson over Grant would provide. Just a thought.
And in tonight’s episode of “Who Shoots It?!” we got another look at a potential game-winner/game-tying shot. Westbrook again assumed control of the ball, and then deferred to Melo for the shot.
Or did he defer? Sort of looked like he expected it back, and this wasn’t a great shot at all from Melo. Also not a huge fan of him looking off Westbrook in this scenario, but hey — it’s the fifth game.
Do less, Melo. Sometimes it is more.
Here Westbrook discusses the final shot. Via Royce Young.
- The Thunder defense was only surrendering 98 points per game coming into tonight. That fell apart.
- Karl Anthony Towns devastated OKC to the tune of 33 points and 19 rebounds. Steven Adams had a big night offensively, but Towns gives him fits on the defensive end. Check out this pick-and-roll where he ends up completely lost and forgets where KAT is.
- OKC shot 28.6 percent on 28 attempts from downtown. The team has yet to shoot 40+ percent from deep in any game, and has shot below 30 percent twice now.
- Josh Huestis has played 15 minutes per game over the last three contests, and this is really happening, isn’t it?
- Alex Abrines only saw 8 minutes tonight, shooting 0/1 and ending at +11.
- Patrick Patterson played 19 minutes tonight, which is now his season-high. He scored 3 points on 1/3 shooting and finished at +15.
Billy Donovan discusses the loss. Via Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Carmelo Anthony on how close losses will make the team better. Via Steve McGehee.
Back in action tomorrow (Saturday) at Chicago. 7 PM CT tip on Fox Sports Oklahoma.