Jonah: Overall, this is a really fun win for the Wolves. It’s not often we get to watch them beat anyone let alone the top team in the West. They couldn’t contain Kevin Durant but certainly kept Russell Westbrook in check. And on the offensive end, they were efficient and played the best ball they could, running through Nikola Pekovic and his dominating post presence. But unfortunately, in a lost season, this entertaining bout becomes something of a sweet nothing. There’s nothing wrong with that; I’m simply stating the obvious.
Tom: I’ll give a nod to the Wolves in general for showing their ability to close a game out. Finishing against better teams in the fourth quarter is tough for any team, but the Wolves have struggled especially this year. But when Oklahoma City made a final push with about four minutes left, Minnesota buckled down and got stops against the explosive Thunder. More importantly, they got the necessary baskets to pull out the win.
As Jonah said above, the game itself didn’t matter in the long run, but it was definitely fun to beat the team the Wolves would like to become.
Derek: The Timberwolves may not be the league’s most potent offense, but it seems like they may have figured one thing out against the Thunder: Make enough shots to win, try to keep one of Durant and Westbrook in check, and try to win the turnover battle. This is the second time this season they have out-shot the Thunder, albeit slightly, and kept Westbrook from going off and basically dared the Thunder to beat them with more than just Durant. Dangerous? Sure, but the Thunder are a dangerous team anyway that you don’t stand a chance against if you have both getting whatever they want.
We’ve seen before how Durant and Westbrook have combined for 60, 70 and even 80 points of their offense, and that makes it difficult to win. Plus they played smart, getting easy shots in the paint, limiting and forcing turnovers, and doing little things like rebounding and moving the ball. You can beat a lot of teams that way.
Jonah: As stated in my positive, the Wolves couldn’t stop Kevin Durant. No problem. No one really can. But Durant seems to love playing in the Target Center. As a pro, Durant has averaged over 27 ppg, and has netted more than 30 in nine straight while on visit to the Twin Cities. So, come on, guys. Someone’s gotta guard the man!
Tom: *debates the merits of discussing the 5-15 3-point shooting* *debates the merits of discussing the 44% shooting from the field* *debates discussing the mere seven fast break points*
Nahhhhhh. Good win, guys.
Derek: I really don’t want to make too much of Derrick Williams 2-8 shooting performance in 26 minutes, but he still got involved in other ways and finished with two fouls and zero turnovers. So what’s really my gripe here? Would I even bother mentioning this if he hit even one or two more shots? It looked like an off-night for Williams, but this is my negatives section and I had to pick something! Anyway, it’s hard to be too negative about beating the Thunder.
Jonah: At Pek’s size, I’ve always expected him to be a Kevin Love-like rebounder, but he just hasn’t for whatever reason. But tonight he grabbed 15 as well as 16 on Wednesday night against the Lakers. Without Love in the lineup, rebounding truly becomes a team stat and Pek’s contributions on the glass have been incredibly helpful.
Tom: I wasn’t at the game tonight, but from what those in attendance said, Rubio was in a foul mood during the game, kicking empty chairs and slamming the ball on the ground. Presumably, this can be tied back to the no-call against the Lakers that cost Minnesota the game. But oddly enough, I find it refreshing to hear he was angry. He deserved to be.
Derek: Chase Budinger really appears to just what the Timberwolves have needed, which we kind of knew, but his line of 13 points on 4-8 shooting from the field and 2-3 from distance really confirmed that. Are the Timberwolves still in the lower-third in the NBA as far as shooting? Probably, but they might not be last at least. At any rate, we got a good look at how this team can do with a shooter on the floor.
Next up: Wolves are back at it tomorrow night hosting the Grizzlies at 7 pm.