There’s just something about these David vs. Goliath match ups that can’t help but get you charged up. As a true American, rooting for the under dog is as homey as apple pie. When the onlookers put all they have into cheering their team on with a fiery passion, the combatants have no choice but to leave it all on the floor and go for the gold.
How else can you explain the atmosphere at the Target Center tonight? Never in the last seven years of attending games have I been apart of such a heart-throbbing, emotional contest.
And how else can you explain the play of two NBA giants, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, and their respective teammates’ efforts? It was as if everyone on the floor was fired up and ready to make the big play when they needed it most.
But really it comes down to this: How can you explain this game entirely? Where do I even start?
From the get-go, both team exchanged buckets through the first half. Michael Beasley had a special touch developing through the second quarter and ended the half with a game-high 19 points, which was the only reason we had a slight advantage going into the break. Whenever these types of first half performances occur, it’s hard not to second-guess this team. Honestly, how many times do we go into a half with a hot player, some momentum and, better yet, a lead, only to have our hopes crushed harder than ever imagined?
But instead tonight was different. The Pups emerged from the tunnel with a newfound swagger believing they could beat the Thunder on this very night. They stretched a sizable lead in the third, but inevitably it wasn’t enough. Not when Kevin Durant’s on the other team.
Behind Durant’s career night, the Thunder clawed their way back into the game in the fourth. And standing behind 16 straight points from Durant, the Thunder actually pulled ahead. Oh, and I’m not finished. Once again allowing Durant to be their leader and seal the deal, he hit a ridiculous 28-foot step-back jumper to put what was thought to be the final dagger into the Wolves’ backside.
But tonight, like I said, a different group of Wolves emerged from the tunnel at halftime. Usually these types of daggers are enough to hinder our play and ultimately seal our fate. Instead the Wolves rebounded after their mistakes with vengeance, hoping to inflict as much pain as possible unto their opponent. Seriously, silly mistakes from Luke Ridnour resulted in him playing stifling defense on Russel Westbrook on the other end. A bad pass from the hands of Beasley normally goes to the other end for a slam, but instead resulted in a charge after pure hustle on Beasley’s part to get back and set. A new monster was playing out there, not our usual timid and fearful-of-making-mistakes Puppies.
Sure does sound like an epic David vs. Goliath battle, doesn’t it?
And it truly was. Only this time the good guy didn’t win.
Despite the wonderful effort on both ends and the resiliency to make up/clean up our petty mistakes, the Thunder had the final say in this one. Do you blame it on turnovers? Do you blame it on free throws? Or how about you blame it on the lack of whistles near the end of the game?
Or how about you blame it on nothing? This has been the story all season long and we usually know how it ends up. Somehow tonight was different. Maybe it was the crowd or the guts that our players put out on the court tonight, but, hell, this was a fun, entertaining game.
Here’s some quick notes:
- Kevin Durant tied his career high of 47 points tonight. He coupled that 18 rebounds and had himself a big game.
- Maybe even bigger and more meaningful though was Kevin Love’s performance (31 points, 21 rebounds). We’re so used to double-doubles out of the big fella and he does it so nonchalantly, it’s really insane. But tonight his hustle exceeded all those around him. It’s just a shame he couldn’t get more whistles inside at the end when things really started getting physical.
- Corey Brewer had a chance to tie the game up from the line with seven seconds to go. All those around me were so furious when he missed that second shot though. Can you really be angry at him? He was the only person all night that had any chance of shutting Durant down, and did so in the first half. Nothing can be put on Corey for this one.
- After perhaps looking further into his slump, it seems that Wes Johnson has re-emerged. He’s starting to attack the rim and settling for less jump shots from outside. Some people might not know but Wes actually has handles when he needs to pull ’em out as well.
- We could’ve used more out of Darko tonight. Only 20 minutes just isn’t enough for the big guy. He needs to be in there as much as possible to help the Wolves run their offense and establish a better pace in the half-court. Otherwise things tend to get messy and selfish.
That’s all for now. Next up is an ailing Utah Jazz squad. Unfortunately we have to hit the road for this one, but it could be a winnable match up.