Good morning and happy Wednesday. We're almost halfway through the work week so chug a few more cups of coffee and keep pushing strong.
Oklahoma City returns to Target Center tonight, 12 days after whooping the Wolves 113-93 on national TV (ESPN). Three days before that, the first game between the teams was much closer, though the Wolves still lost at home; Minnesota put together a 30-21 fourth quarter and didn't lay down when the score was 78-60. That was the night Zach LaVine broke out of his slump with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
If there's anything working in the Wolves' favor tonight, it's the fact that OKC played an overtime game at Madison Square Garden last night. Kevin Durant scored 22 of his 44 in the fourth quarter and subsequent overtime that he forced with a jumper with 16 seconds left in regulation as the Thunder came back to win 128-122 (via Royce Young).
Also from Young's piece above (linked):
Still, the feeling from some was that if Durant was really that much of an admirer of Porzingis, then maybe he'd consider the Knicks when the time comes in July. Then again, Durant already plays with a mythological creature. If Porzingis is a unicorn, Russell Westbrook is a werewolf. Durant had his 44, but Westbrook added 30, eight rebounds and 10 assists in 44 jet-fueled minutes, as the raw power of the duo was on full display.
In Wolves news, Jon Krawczynski, who does an amazing job of covering the team for the Associated Press—in case you somehow weren't aware—published a compelling article late last night.
In the piece, he describes an old-school coach, Sam Mitchell, trying to reach a new-school roster. The part about half the roster voicing concerns about Mitchell was particularly interesting:
But nearly half the roster of 15 players privately expressed concerns to The Associated Press about Mitchell that centered on three basic tenets: His outdated offensive system, his tendency to platoon his rotations and a lack of personal accountability for the struggles. The players spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly criticize their head coach.
Kevin Garnett, who has known Mitchell since the two were teammates in 1995, was asked about the heavy criticism Mitchell has faced from fans this season before a victory over Memphis last Saturday. He quickly replied: "Next question." Garnett often swipes aside questions he views as negative, but one of Mitchell's close allies passing on a chance to back him didn't help the coach's cause.
In other news, D'Angelo Russell was benched for 'trying to take over' (link)
"I saw the last couple minutes that he was in that he was really trying to take over the game, and that's not him yet," Scott said. "I want the ball to move a little bit. I thought it stuck with him. He tried to make the big shots and things like that. I understand that, but to me, that's not him right now."
The quotes in the article by Baxter Holmes are pretty hilarious. Scott and Russell are clearly on different pages in completely different books.
"I love the fact that he has confidence," Scott said. "When it gets to the point where it's cockiness, then we've got a problem." ... "I don't know if [Scott] would've said that if I was making those shots," says Russell.
Tweets that caught my eye...
Not sure what's going on here..... https://t.co/uNRscQKitD— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 24, 2016
Today's musical guest is Mac Miller. Mac and I hope you have the best day ever!