— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 17, 2016
The Oklahoma City Thunder played their first preseason game tonight at home at the Chesapeake Energy Arena defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-94. Several players returned from injury allowing the Thunder to play a little closer to what they will look like in the regular season. Oklahoma City took the lead early and never relinquished it as Minnesota played the second half of back-to-back preseason games.
Offense Clicks to Put Up Big Points
Last season, the Thunder finished second in the NBA averaging 109.5 points per game, and they had no issue tonight with scoring as they put up 112 points. Oklahoma City shot fairly well from the field finishing at an even 50% on 45/90, but they struggled from behind the arc making only 7/21 for 33%.
Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 26 points on 10/21 shooting, including the monstrous dunk below.
Including Westbrook, Oklahoma City finished with seven double-digit scorers: Steven Adams (20), Victor Oladipo (11), Joffrey Lauvergne (11), Semaj Christon (11), Kyle Singler (11), and Enes Kanter (10).
Oklahoma City did a decent job sharing the ball for a total of 23 assists, but they struggled at times to take care of the rock as they turned it over 19 times. Westbrook led the team with 10 assists and an impressive zero turnovers. Christon also had four assists, and Ronnie Price and Damontis Sabonis had three each.
Defense Locks Up Tired T-Wolves
Playing the second half of back-t0-back preseason games, the Timberwolves rested their typical starting lineup, so shutting down Minnesota was not much of a challenge for Oklahoma City. The Thunder held the Timberwolves to 40% shooting from the field and out-rebounded Minnesota 47-37.
The Thunder forced 17 turnovers as they stole the ball an impressive 10 times. Andre Roberson had a solid start as he returned from injury grabbing all three of his steals in the first three minutes of the game. Steven Adams had the Thunder’s only blocked shots for the night with four total.
The Return of Adams
After playing only nine minutes in the preseason so far due to an ankle injury, Steven Adams made his return tonight in glorious fashion. Adams scored 20 points on 8/15 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots in only 23 minutes of play as he took advantage of the Timberwolves and threw down some monstrous dunks (see below).
More importantly for Adams, his ankle injury looked to be a non-issue as he played a well-rounded game and had a number of athletic plays. 20 points is especially impressive considering his regular-season high is 17. His return could not have come sooner as the Thunder need him back into the flow of things with the regular season only 10 days away.
Is Kyle Singler Legit?
The Kyle Singler phenomenon continued tonight as he managed 11 points on 4/6 of shooting (3/4 from 3) in only 17 minutes. Despite playing extremely well as of late, Singler did not even see the court until late in the third quarter, but he wasted no time and went straight to work. If Kyle is capable of being this reliable on a nightly basis, he could easily find himself with some consistent time on the court.
The Nuggets Are Next For the Thunder
Only 10 days remain until the start of the regular season for the Thunder, and only one preseason game remains to be played as the Thunder host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at the Peake. Tip-off is set for 7 PM CST, and it will once again be available for streaming via the Thunder’s website and the official Thunder mobile app.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter.