The Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves in the middle of another game full of runs, and this time, they ended up on the wrong side of things as they fell 114-112 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Thunder and the Wolves both came out firing on all cylinders as it seemed like neither team could miss a shot. For the first 6 minutes of the period, OKC maintained a minor lead, but Minnesota quickly worked their way ahead thanks to a 10-0 run.
The Wolves were able to do basically anything they wanted in the paint early, and the Thunder could not stop turning the ball over and committing fouls. After one quarter, Minnesota led OKC 35-25.
Minnesota picked up in the second quarter right where they left off by hitting a shot in the first few seconds to go up by 12, a lead they maintained for a couple of minutes before the Thunder did that thing where they go on a run and get right back into the game.
OKC scored 7 quick ones to cut the deficit to 5 with a little over 8 minutes left in the half, and then the Thunder outscored the Wolves 28-13 the rest of the way to take a 63-53 lead into halftime.
Third quarters this season have been kind to OKC, but that was not the case tonight. Minnesota was the one that was able to come out of the locker room after halftime with energy, and their ability to knock down 4-5 (80%) from three in a short period of time fueled the Timberwolves to a 13-2 run and an 80-78 lead with 3:20 left in the period.
Minnesota kept it rolling in the final few minutes, and OKC did not hit a field goal the final 5 minutes of the period, and the Timberwolves were able to take an 86-80 advantage into the final quarter.
Trailing by 6, the Thunder needed to muster every ounce of energy that they might have left in order to pull off a comeback, and they looked like they might just do it.
The Timberwolves were able to push their lead up to double digits around the 8-minute mark, and just when it looked like it was out of reach, Russell Westbrook checked in and turned things around as he scored 11 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, handed out 2 assists, and grabbed a steal, all while not turning the ball over. Unfortunately, he fouled out with just a few seconds left in the game, and OKC was unable to get the win.
Thunder Player of the Game
Russell Westbrook played perhaps his best game in quite some time as he scored 23 points on 10-19 (52.6%) from the field, including 1-1 (100%) from 3, and 2-4 (50.0%) from the free throw line. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists to put together yet another triple-double, his 9th of the season and 112th career. Hopefully Russ can move past his shooting woes and continue to improve, and the Thunder can continue racking up wins.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Where is the Bench? So often this season, the Thunder’s bench has put up solid numbers to assist in vaulting OKC to victory, but lately, they have been less than impressive. Tonight, that was especially the case as Dennis Schröder had a team-worst -21 in +/-, and Alex Abrines missed yet another wide open game-winning shot. It’s great to see how much Billy Donovan and the starters trust the backups, but if they are not performing up to par, they need to be benched.
- Too Many Things: Sometimes, it does not matter how well you play, you are almost destined to lose the game. Tonight, it kind of seemed that way for the Thunder as the fouls were not going their way, the Timberwolves shot a ridiculous 14-27 (51.9%) from three, and OKC looked tired playing in the second game of a back-to-back. Regardless, the Thunder needs to put this game behind them and look ahead to the next one.
- NBA Officials Need Some Accountability: Complaining about officials, especially after a loss, does literally no good, so all that needs to be said is that they need more accountability in some form or fashion. Right now, the league issues a Last 2 Minute (L2M) Report the day after games that are within 5 points in the final 2 minutes. In this report, they go over every single officiating decision, stating whether it was the correct call/no-call. Tomorrow, there will be several mistakes on it that went in Minnesota’s favor, and in the end, it cost Oklahoma City the game. I’m not sure what the NBA can do to hold its officials up to a higher standard, but seeing this type of thing happen as often as it seems to happen needs to come to an end.
Merry Christmas, Thunder Fans!
For the 9th consecutive season, the Oklahoma City Thunder will play basketball on Christmas Day. This year, the Thunder travels to Houston where they will play the Rockets for the second Christmas in a row. Last year, the Thunder defeated the Rockets 112-107 in Oklahoma City. The Thunder is 1-0 against the Rockets so far this season, and they will meet two other times later this season. Tip-off on Christmas Day is set for 2 PM CT and will be broadcast on ABC. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.