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Thunder Beat Timberwolves in Ugly Game 92-84

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This looked a lot like two teams that played elsewhere the night before, as the shooting was poor and the game bogged down at several points. The Thunder got out to an early lead that they never relinquished as they eased to a win.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was not pretty basketball. The Wolves and Thunder spent long stretches of this one unable to hit a shot, and the two teams combined to go 6-33 from three in a display of tired and sometimes disinterested basketball. The Thunder, having much better players than the Wolves even in the absence of Kevin Durant, won the game 92-84, after opening up a sizable second quarter lead and hanging on throughout the 2nd half.

The Wolves closed to within three points at one point in the 3rd quarter, but that was as close as they got, as they went ice cold at that point and eventually the Thunder were able to hit a few and get some breathing room.

The transition was killer tonight. The Thunder scored 32 fast break points, mostly off of missed shots by the Wolves, who wound up shooting 35% on the night. They could not cope with the speed of the Thunder in the open court, and while the Thunder's half-court offense was particularly poor tonight, they got enough transition points to win the game.

In better news, Andrew Wiggins had a good game tonight at both ends of the floor. In the first half, he was particularly relentless driving to the basket. It was only somewhat effective, as he was 5-11 at the break. He only took three 2nd half shots, but got to the free throw line a total of 12 times tonight, and finished with 23 points on 7-14 from the field. He also was matched up defensively with Russell Westbrook for most of the night, and did a creditable job. It helped that Westbrook's shot was off, (he finished 7-22, a few of those later when Wiggins wasn't guarding him), but Wiggins did a good job funneling him toward help and staying in the play on his drives.

The Thunder are very tough to score on in the paint, and the Wolves really struggled around the basket. Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka did a great job playing physically and protecting the rim; the Thunder finished with 11 blocked shots on the night, and that's indicative of the kind of defense they were playing around the basket.

This was an ugly game of basketball, but in the end the Thunder are just a better team, and there's not much the Wolves could do.

NOTES

  • Nikola Pekovic really struggled tonight, going 3-12 from the floor. Much of it was the aforementioned defense by the Thunder, as Steven Adams really played him tough. It's also true that Pek played 36 minutes last night in his 3rd game back from injury. He went another 30 tonight, so good job Flip keeping those minutes under control.
  • Mo Williams had a poor shooting night as well, going 1-10. It's gonna happen with a jump shooter.
  • Zach LaVine played 23 minutes, his most in a while. So frustrating. He made a couple of nice moves to the basket, got rewarded with buckets, and learned nothing, as his next two shots were pull up jumpers off the dribble, or WTFZs? as the new acronym has it. Managed a team worst -14.
  • Thad Young does seem more comfortable dealing with smaller players, as he finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds. And a couple of ugly fast breaks. He does not look good with the ball in transition.
  • Steven Adams. Let me say first that I really like Steven Adams. Would have liked the Wolves to have drafted him. Man does he get away with a lot. Shoves guys on screens, grabs jerseys, just everything. And he gets away with it. Several times on PnR, he just gave two handed shoves to the guy he was screening after the ball handler had used the screen and he was starting his roll.
  • I would not attribute the Thunder's poor shooting to Wolves defense, really. They clanked a ton of open ones. Still, this is one of the lowest FG% an opponent has had against the Wolves in memory.
  • Flip Saunders got a technical for the 2nd night in a row, this time for complaining about a loose ball foul on Andrew Wiggins that he thought should have gone the other way. Looked like Wiggins grabbed a guy to me, but it's at least a bit entertaining to see Flip get riled up. Ryan tried to grab him and Flip told him to get off.
Next game is at home on Wednesday night against the Celtics.