The Minnesota Timberwolves’ losing streak continues. It’s now been nine straight losses. It’s also a 25th straight loss for the Wolves in the month of April (last win 4/8/09 vs. Golden State Warriors).
Most (including myself) expected the Thunder to steamroll the Timberwolves. The Thunder are #1 in the Western Conference with (now) 43 wins on the season. While the Wolves were without Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Wayne Ellington and Darko Milicic. With just ten healthy players and their top three players out with injuries: Love (concussion), Ridnour (ankle) and Rubio (knee), it looked as though it was going to be another ugly loss for Minnesota.
Instead, the Wolves got great production from guys like Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic and although they were extremely shorthanded the TWolves put up a fight against the mighty Thunder.
Ultimately, the play of Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook was too much for the Wolves and they fell in the final minutes, 110-115.
Let’s get a look at some of tonight’s top performers…
HOT: I’d love to give it to our trio of 20+ point scorers, but, c’mon! Westbrook & Durant combined for 78 points on 56% from the field (27-48 FG), 60% from deep (6-10 3PT), 82% from the line (18-22 FT), 8reb, 9ast, 1blk and 2stls. This was Durant’s 21st game in which he’s scored 40+ points, in his career. Beyond those two, no other Thunder player scored more than 10pts. Nick Collison: 10pts, Thabo Sefelosha: 9, Serge Ibaka: 8, James Harden: 6, Nazr Mohammed & Kendrick Perkins: 2 each. The most surprising on that list is likely 6th man of the Year winner James Harden. He scored just the 6pts on 1-of-11 shooting and 0-for-8 from deep...as well as 4-for-4 from the line. Despite the lack of production from the rest of the team, the play of Durant & Westbrook was enough for the narrow W.
NOT: Minnesota’s free-throw shooting. The TWolves missed 12 free-throws. 12 missed free-throws in a 5-point game. That means the difference between winning and losing…and tonight we lost…again!
MISC.: This was J.J.’s 3rd straight double-double, he also tied a season-high with 3 steals…..Beasley had a great game, he shot 62% on the night and had those 26pts without making a three (0-for-1) or shooting a free throw, he also set a new season-high with 13 FGM and tied season-highs in assists (3) and steals (2)……Randolph continued his improved play with Love out of the lineup and had his first double-double of the season, he also set new season-highs in defensive rebounds (9), rebounds (11) and minutes (34). He also tied season-highs in FGA (16), FTM (6) and FTA (8)……With Love out of the lineup someone had to pick up the slack on the boards, Pekovic grabbed a new season/career-high 8 defensive rebounds and also tied a season/career-high in total rebounds with 13……Kevin Durant set a new career-high for points in a quarter and was one-point away from the franchise record (for OKC...or...SEA)......
KEY STATS: Like I said above, those missed free-throws really hurt the Wolves tonight. Minnesota also got beat on the boards (OKC with a +14) and on the break (with a +10). Beyond that, looking at the stats, the TWolves did fairly well. They shot 50% on the night, 36% from deep (both better than OKC), they had more assists, less fouls, more bench production, more points in the paint and less turnovers for less opponent points. I’d pinpoint those free-throws as the ‘back-breaker’!
UP NEXT: Monday, April 16th vs. the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, tipoff 6pmCT.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!