The Thunder took on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night in a pivotal division matchup at Chesapeake Energy Arena. After a tough home loss to Washington last game, OKC desperately needed to bounce back with a win against a dismantled Wolves team. That was not the case, however, as OKC dropped another tough one that went down to the final buzzer, and Minnesota walked away with the 119-117 win.
Terrance Ferguson rose to the occasion early in the first quarter with a deep three pointer and a monster slam to set the tone. In a back and forth affair, Minnesota was able to capitalize on OKC’s turnovers, which sparked a 7-0 run to give the Timberwolves an early lead. In comparison to last game, the Thunder’s efforts on loose balls and second chance points kept them within reach in the first quarter. Paul George’s 9 points in the quarter were outmatched by Wiggins’s 12 as the Wolves took a 29-23 lead after one.
Minnesota came into the second quarter with immediate back-to-back and-ones which gave the Wolves a 13-point lead, their largest of the game. Dennis Schröder connected with Nerlens Noel for an alley-oop to bring the crowd back into the game. Karl-Anthony Towns dominated the post offensively, but he found himself in early foul trouble. Paul George and Terrance Ferguson both hit threes to cut the Minnesota lead to one, but shortly after Wiggins answered with one of his own to finish the period with 24 points in the half as the game was tied at 64-64.
OKC came out hot in the second half with 3 straight buckets to spark a 6-0 run to open the quarter. Minnesota sparked a run of their own to tie the game back up, at least until PG and Ferg hit another pair of threes. A scary moment occurred after Andrew Wiggins went up for a monster dunk that resulted in Nerlens Noel getting a hard hit to the face. Noel was quickly taken off the court by a stretcher and was out for the remainder of the game. Westbrook hit a pull up jumper to go up by six, but that lead quickly vanished after another quick run by the Wolves to end the quarter with Minnesota on top 96-93.
It was a back and forth affair for the majority of the fourth quarter. With 5 minutes to go, Jerami Grant had a devastating block which led to Russell Westbrook finding Steven Adams for the strong finish. After two quick buckets from Wiggins, PG hit another three to bring the game within one. Dennis Schröder dove for a loose ball at one point that resulted in a jump, which was won by Schröder, and that led to a deep three by Russ to take the lead.
Wiggins took over late in the fourth after a dish to Okogie for a dagger three to put the Wolves up by 4 with a minute to go. After two big free throws from Westbrook, Tyus Jones traveled before getting to half court to give OKC the ball down two points. Westbrook heaved up two three point attempts, but he could not seal the deal in the final seconds as Minnesota squeaked out a win in OKC 119-117.
Thunder Player of the Game: Terrance Ferguson
The Thunder desperately need someone to step up and make some three’s in order to get out of their current offensive slump. Ferguson was lights out from deep making all 4 of his three ball attempts, which kept OKC alive periodically throughout the game. If Ferguson can remain consistent with his three ball, he could be the missing piece to this struggling team.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Losing at the Line: At the end of the third quarter, Andrew Wiggins had more free throw attempts than the entire OKC roster combined. The Thunder need to take more aggressive drives to the lane to create opportunities to get to the line instead of settling for poor shot selections. Minnesota had 40 FT attempts to OKC’s 26 before the night’s end.
- Noel Injury: The scary moment in which Noel took a hard hit from Wiggins resulted in him leaving the floor on a stretcher. This would be a big blow to OKC’s bench if Noel has to miss extended time, but for the moment we just hope he is not too seriously hurt. Both teams and the home crowd gave a warming applause as he left the floor. Prayers up for Nerlens.
- PG had the shot he wanted: Paul George was set up for a prime three pointer at the top of the key to take the lead in the final seconds, but he came up short. The play was drawn up perfectly, but after hitting five threes on the night, PG did not get the shot to fall.
Double Up with San Antonio
The Oklahoma City Thunder now heads to San Antonio where they will play the Spurs on Thursday night, the first of two matchups with the Spurs in 3 days. San Antonio has been playing their best basketball of late, while the Thunder has struggled the last couple of games.
Tip-off is set for 7 PM CT and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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