“He’s good,” said Billy Madison after he had failed to compete with his rival’s violin solo during the Academic Decathlon. This obviously being from the epic film, “Billy Madison.”
I’m obviously referring to Mr. Kevin Durant, #35 on the Oklahoma City Thunder, when using that quote. Durant was nearly shut down in the first half thank to Corey Brewer’s pesky defensive ways. But, like a sleeping giant, he arose from his slumber and stuck a dagger into the hearts of Timberwolves’s players, coaches and fans alike. And by dagger, I mostly mean this ferocious slam in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves started off the game by playing the best quarter of basketball I’ve seen this entire year — I’m not kidding. Everyone was hitting on all cylinders, especially Kevin Love who ended the first quarter with 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Mike Beasley was just as hot, until getting pulled after two ticky-tack fouls. But nonetheless, The Thunder were just unable to keep up with the fire-hot Wolves. It’s difficult when your opponent shoots over 60% and puts up 40 points.
But then immediately when the starters came out and reserves went in to start the second, the Thunder struck back with 25-9 run. You can tell the Wolves are really hurting with the plethora of injuries ailing our roster and limiting Rambis’s rotations. It might not be so bad when Flynn, Webster and Pekovic are on the court as reserves, but when you have guys like Telfair, Ellington and Koufos, it makes it a little harder to inject any ounce of confidence into your team.
As the game went on, the smell of a comeback just wafted everyone’s nose. Once the third quarter was well under way, Westbrook started heating up and you could tell Durant was craving for the ball. The Wolves, on the offensive end, were starting to lose their composure, and, let me stop there!
Do I sound like a broken record or what? How many times have the Wolves done this to us this year? Break a lead wide open and just lose it because they don’t understand how to play with a lead. Some of tonight’s problem was the context of the game. They were ridiculed by injuries across the board, including our defensive anchor, Darko Milicic. Without Darko, the Wolves failed to run a proper triangle offense, which resulted in a ton of spacing problems in the paint. Love and Beasley had trouble finding room underneath which made some tempers flare.
Anywho, back to Durant’s godly talents. Durant singlehandedly led the charge for the Thunder to get back in the game and even took the lead himself from the Wolves with five minutes to go. From that point on, the Wolves just couldn’t muster up enough support on offense to overcome the Thunder’s lead.
It’s sad. It really is. I’m sure the Wolves feel like I’m preaching to the choir by saying they don’t know how to keep composure late in games and hold a lead. It’s plain and simple: The Wolves are really, really ridiculously good at losing basketball games, no matter how big a lead they create in the first half.
But once these injured folks get back onto the court, maybe, just maybe, the Wolves will have the personnel to fend off teams like the Thunder, crawling to get back in the game.
Up next is the Detroit Pistons at home Friday night. By then we should have Darko back and Webster may be active for that contest. We can only hope so, really.