Their first meeting resulted in OKC’s worst loss all season. It ended in a 100-81 drubbing that saw the Minnesota Timberwolves take advantage of the absence of Russell Westbrook, who was still in the midst of rehabbing his knee following a surgical procedure performed October 1st.
You would think that the Thunder would be itching to prove that last outcome as nothing more than a fluke by starting strong. The thing is the Timberwolves play harder than their 9-9 record would indicate, and that record has a tendency to lull opponents to sleep.
While the Thunder hung early, an 8-0 run extended the Timberwolves’ lead to 9 (18-9) midway through the 1st quarter. That lead held through most of the 1st. Although the Thunder chipped away at the lead slightly, the 1st quarter ended with the Timberwolves up 6 (32-26).
The 2nd quarter didn’t look very promising either. A 9-5 run midway though the 2nd actually extended the Timberwolves lead to 11 (51-40). The Thunder’s saving grace in that quarter was the fact that they outscored the Timberwolves by 3. That still wasn’t enough to claim the lead however, as the Thunder entered halftime down 3 (58-55).
The 3rd quarter saw the Thunder defense tighten up, as they held the Timberwolves to 25 points for the quarter. The problem for the Thunder here was that they were still outscored by 2 in the quarter, and were going into the 4th down 83-78. Through 3 quarters, the Thunder had been unable to claim the lead even once.
Then the 4th quarter began, and the bottom fell out on the Timberwolves.
The Thunder defense became very stiff, and the Thunder offense completely exploded in terms of points. With 4.5 seconds left in the 3rd, the Thunder began an 9-0 run that stretched to the 10:00 mark in the 4th. This run gave the Thunder their first lead of the game. Then the Thunder began another run at the 6:45 mark. This 17-3 run gave the Thunder a 14-point lead (107-93) with 2:30 to play. This lead would prove insurmountable to the T-Wolves, as the Thunder ended the game with a 113-103 victory.
The big story of last night was the stat line of Kevin Durant. His numbers were astounding: 32 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks. He led the Thunder in all five categories last night. Not only that, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player to ever post these numbers in the same game since steals and blocks became official stats in the ’73-’74 season. The only other player to ever even post a 30+-10-10-4-4 was none other than the great Michael Jordan, who achieved it back on January 16, 1988.
The numbers looked so good, it makes it easy to forget that other Thunder players made their mark as well. Westbrook dropped 19 points, Serge Ibaka added 15, and Reggie Jackson is proving to be a solid #6, with his 18-point contribution.
Two Timberwolves managed double-doubles last night. Kevin Love had 16 points and 12 boards, and Nikola Pekovic had a nice 22-point, 10-rebound game of his own. Former Thunder player Kevin Martin scored 24 points, and Corey Brewer dropped in an additional 10.
This was a tough win, but the victory moves the Thunder to 12-3 this season, while the Timberwolves fall back below .500 with the loss (9-10). The Thunder managed a complete sweep of their 6-game home stretch, which marks only the second time in history this franchise has pulled that off. The last undefeated home stretch this long was back when the Thunder were still the Seattle Supersonics. They pulled off a 7-game home stretch in the ’77-’78 season. Next up, the Thunder head west for the first of a 3-game road trip. The Thunder will be hosted by the 4-11 Sacramento Kings this Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 CST and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.