Wolves-Thunder Recap: The Fourth Quarter is the New Third Quarter

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When I heard Dave Benz talking about the Thunder's record with and without Russell Westbrook, it made me sad.

The Wolves have lost 11 games by four or fewer points.

The Thunder have lost 11 games.

Let that sink in.

I went into tonight's game expecting a loss, and ready to witness an ugly loss. What I saw instead was almost three full quarters of competitive, engaging basketball followed by a fourth quarter that looked like my pre-game vision. There was hustle, there were surprising performances, and there were Dante Cunninghams. I'm pretty sure there was more than one.

There were also terrible passes, inexplicable lineups, and Kevin Durants. I'm positive there was more than one of those.

The positives:

  • To start the game, Ricky was aggressive--both in driving to the rack and in taking shots. The early shots fell. The later ones, unfortunately, did not.
  • Dante Cunningham played his ass off tonight. He shot well, he had a couple early putback dunks that made me laugh, and he rebounded well. He also played a yeoman's 43 minutes to help compensate for the loss of Kevin Love, who landed hard on his ass, which hurt his neck.
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played excellent defense, holding Kevin Durant to 80% of his season average in points while avoiding fouls. Durant shot one free throw tonight. Spoiler Alert: He made it.
  • Ronny Turiaf did pretty well in his limited minutes. He didn't shoot much, and he didn't collect a lot of rebounds, but he blocked four shots. Haven't seen that too often as a Wolves fan.
  • Jose Juan Barea shot pretty well, and he had an awesome misdirection move right under the hoop that confused the hell out of the Thunder defenders. That was amusing.
  • Shabazz Muhammad GOT AN ASSIST! And he showed some good moves and a nice touch near the basket. His earliest (and longest) shots were terrible.
  • Gorgui Dieng . . . rebounded . . . well?
  • Nobody got hurt, I think.
  • For three quarters, our depleted team hung with the team with the best record in the Western Conference. I didn't expect that at all, and I'm impressed.
  • The game thread was fun.

The negatives:

  • Gor-Gor's only points on the night were from a three-point goaltend for the Thunder as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter. It may not have been when the wheels came off, but we were without lugnuts at that point.
  • Gor-Gor's line is pretty ugly. 0-4 shooting, three personal fouls and a turnover in eight minutes. He did pull down five rebounds, though, so that was good.
  • Meatball was a train wreck out there. Couldn't shoot, didn't rebound, and was on the court for 21 minutes. Blech.
  • Robbie Hummel was basically Budinger with four fewer minutes.
  • Alexey Shved didn't shoot well, and did basically nothing else on the court. He seemed to look better on offense, though. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.
  • Kevin Martin only played 23 minutes. I don't get it. Was he hurt? Tired?
  • Turiaf played only 28 minutes. I don't get it.
  • Roomba was playing good defense on Durant, but only played 27 minutes. What?
  • Durant's dagger at the end of the half.
  • Derek Fisher.

I won't complain about the game. It was the toughest of situations against an excellent team, and the Wolves competed for most of the game. It's clear, though, that we need Love to make the offense really work. And Pek could have been a difference-maker tonight. Oh, well. Forget it, Jake.

What did I miss?

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