Oklahoma City entered tonight’s matchup with Minnesota staring a three-game losing streak in the eyes, and all of Thunder nation wondered how the team was going to respond. The home crowd was pumped from the get go, and it didn’t take long for the Thunder to go to work. Paul George and Steven Adams combined for 24 points as Russell Westbrook dished out seven assists to lead the way for Oklahoma City as the Thunder would score a season-high for points in the first quarter and finish the period up 42-33.
The Thunder continued its domination in the second quarter as Adams continued to pour in the points with another 8 in the period. Thanks to a strong push by the bench, Oklahoma City would lead 64-54 at the half.
The third quarter has been rough for Oklahoma City for much of the season, and it looked like that would be the case again tonight. Minnesota would make an effort to cut in to the Thunder’s lead, but Paul George would add in another 11 points for the quarter, and after three, Oklahoma City was up 85-79.
The Thunder has found itself with a lead in the fourth quarter many times this season, but far too often has it ended poorly. The Timberwolves would push and push, but tonight, Oklahoma City would dig their heels in and not let up. Paul George and Steven Adams continued with their incredible night, combining for 18 fourth-quarter points as Adams would finish a career-high 27 points on 11/11 (100%) shooting from the field and 5/5 (100%) from the free throw line. George finished with 36 points on 10/21 (47.6%) from the field, including 5/9 (55.6%) from three and 11/11 (100%) from the free throw line. In the end, the Thunder held on and picked up a nice win at home over the Timberwolves 111-107.
3 Quick Thoughts
- When Clicking, This Offense is Downright Dangerous: The Thunder started off tonight on fire. Minnesota has a high-powered offense, so they were naturally going to make shots, but Oklahoma City shot 57.7% in the first quarter on the way to a season-high 42 points. Perhaps the most impressive part of the first quarter performance was an astounding 11 assists as a team, led by Russell Westbrook’s 7 dimes. Apparently a three-game losing streak was enough to get the team’s attention, and it could not have come at a better time. When the ball is moving and everyone is more concerned with the team winning as opposed to scoring individual points, this offense is scary. Hopefully they learned something tonight and will continue to keep it up moving forward.
- Perimeter Defense Needs Attention: The Timberwolves rank in the top half of the league in terms of points per game, and they’re fifth in offensive rating, so stopping them is no easy task. Tonight, Minnesota managed to shoot 12/24 (50%) from three, which ultimately kept them in the game. The Timberwolves are a decent three-point shooting team, but definitely not as good as the Thunder let them be tonight. While the defense was decent, forcing Minnesota into 17 turnovers, the three-point line needs to be more of a priority.
- The Bench is a Concern: For much of the season, the Thunder has been a question mark outside of the top five guys or so. Coming off the bench, Jerami Grant is the only real reliable threat for Oklahoma City. Grant managed nine points, three rebounds, and two blocks tonight, but his scoring made up half of the bench production, which is not exactly good. While the majority of the offense is going to come from the starters for obvious reasons, the bench is going to have to step up if the Thunder wants to find a consistency of winning.
Oklahoma City gets another shot to play in front of the home crowd as they host the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. The Thunder lost to the Spurs in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago 101-104. The game will tip off at 6 PM and will be televised on FSOK and NBA TV. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and give us a like on Facebook.