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Game #52: Facing Off Against A Force Of Nature (Wolves/OKC Recap)

Look at it. OKC posted a .685 TS% last night while grabbing almost a quarter of their misses and getting to the line just as proficiently (while making everything, 22-22, when they got there). It was masterful.

The Wolves, for their part, played about as well as you could possibly hope for: 4 bench players in double figures, a .568 TS% (which, for them, is something else), a sub-10% TOV%, and nearly 30 trips to the line. Against any other team this sort of effort, and the 111 points that came along with it, would have been good enough for the win. Not against the Thunder.

Thunder, Spurs, Heat. Everything else is paste.

Last night was one of those games that reminded you of just how far apart these teams have drifted since they were paired together at the bottom of the league. Every time Ricky Rubio goes up against Russell Westbrook my mind goes back to the first time the two played last season when Rubio got under Westbrook's skin and we Wolves fans entertained thoughts that Our Beloved Puppies have the more dynamic, fun, and productive player on their squad. That notion should probably be laid forever to rest after last night's Rubio demolition at the hands of Mr. Westbrook. At the very least, we should be talking about different models of players from here on out. After all, a Ferrari shouldn't be compared to a Camry...or something.

Again, Rubio played well enough to win against most other teams in the league last night, but he was paired up against a wholly different animal than just "the rest." Russell Westbrook went for 37 points with 9-9 shooting at the line, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds. He exploded to places on the court that mere basketball mortals can only hop and skip to. Does he log this sort of dominance in every tilt of the season? Of course not. He doesn't have to with the second best player in the league lining up at the 3. However, last night's Westbrook was a horrible and stark reminder that the Thunder's second best player can put up Loveian nights when his team needs it while...well, we haven't even gotten to Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Kevin Martin, or Thabo Sefolosha. And yes, KD still went off, too.

The Wolves threw a solid punch last night. They did so with an off night from Pek and with Williams going 3-14 from the floor in only 22 minutes. Stiemer, Shved, JJ, and Ham kept things close by hitting 24-36 from the floor off the bench but they were all fighting in the wrong weight class. Last night's opponent should be handled carefully by the LeBrons and Duncans of the world. Not Unicorn and Pek Adventure Time. So sad.

The modern version of MJ and Pip roam the earth in two places these days and the Spurs have probably softened into the teens version of the Jazz. Does this leave us with hopes that our guys can be, what, the Sonics? Sweet season, come to me.