The Thunder played the second night of their back to back tonight in Minnesota. The game was a back and forth battle for the most part, but the Timberwolves ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter. The Thunder didn’t shoot well, and they came out flat. I know this team was tired, but it was still difficult to watch this game take place.
Oklahoma City had another horrible start to the first quarter tonight. This is starting to become a trend lately. The Timberwolves jumped out to a 12-2 lead. The Thunder scored the first basket of the game, and then the Timberwolves would go on to score 12 straight. After much back and forth, the Thunder would respond with their own 7-0 run to get back into the game. The Thunder started the game 1-8, then finished the quarter 8-11 after that point. It was an ugly quarter for both teams, but the score was 23-23 at the end of the first.
After having seven turnovers in the first quarter, things would only get worse for OKC in th second when they would add four more to total 11 turnovers in the first half. The Thunder couldn’t get anything going outside of Russell Westbrook. There was absolutely no spark off the bench. Minus Russ, the rest of the starters were a combined 4-16 in the first half. Despite the pour shooting and turnovers, the game was tied at 47-47 entering halftime.
The second half was one to forget for Oklahoma City. Paul George simply couldn’t get anything going, but to be fair, no one really could besides Russ. The Thunder only put up 10 points in the third, which really put them in a tough spot down the stretch. This was the third straight game that OKC has entered the fourth quarter trailing. The team is now 3-14 when trailing heading into the final quarter.
Russell Westbrook did just about everything he could with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Brodie battled to the end, but it wasn’t enough tonight. Jimmy Butler led the way for a Minnesota team on a seven game winning streak. Before it was all said and done, OKC totaled up 20 turnovers which is a season high.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Russell Westbrook Needs Help, Once Again!
There have been many games this season where it seems that Russell Westbrook is on and island by himself. These games look much like the Thunder from last season. Russ now has two other all-stars with him, so what’s the problem now?
Westbrook was a one man wrecking crew tonight. He shot at a very high level, and produced very efficiently tonight. However, it still wasn’t enough. As good as this guy is, he needs his teammates there to back him up.
- OKC Has to be Able to Rely on Paul George.
Paul George was essentially non existent tonight. He hit a couple of shots that pushed the Thunder in the right direction, but it was never enough to fully get this team where they needed to be. Paul George is a huge part of this offense, so when he’s having a bad night it takes a tole on this team.
What’s even worse is when his struggles on offense affect the way he plays defense. George is a great two way player, but it seems like one has to be clicking in order to get the other going. OKC has to know that George is gonna show up night in and night out. It doesn’t always mean that he will be playing well, but the effort on both ends has to stay the same regardless of his performance.
- The Thunder Defense isn’t the Same Without Andre Roberson.
Andre Roberson is out with tendinitis in his left knee. It’s unknown how long he will be out, but I’m thinking it won’t be too much longer. He went through some non contact drills before yesterday and today’s game. Hopefully he will be practicing soon and then finding his way back to the court shortly after that.
When Andre returns, I fully believe his value to this team will be shown immediately. Perhaps everyone who doubts his effectiveness will finally see what he brings to the table for this team. The Thunder’s defense simply hasn’t looked the same without his presence on the court. I expect things to be much different for this team when Roberson returns to the lineup.
On the Road Again
The Thunder will be on the road again on Saturday night when they take on the Charlotte Hornets. The game will have a bit of an awkward start time at 4:00 PM CST. It will be televised on FSOK and broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM. Playing the Hornets will be a great test to see where OKC matches up with the Eastern Conference. A win on Saturday could be exactly what this team needs to get a spark going again.
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.