December 1, 2017, 11:49 pm
The Oklahoma City Thunder were finally able to break through and beat the Wolves this season in what ended up being yet another closely contested matchup.
The Thunder shot 51.9 percent on 79 shots to the Wolves’ 51.3 percent on 76 shots. The Thunder had 28 assists and 18 turnovers to the Wolves’ 26 assists and 16 turnovers. The glaring differences, the Thunder led by 21 points to the Wolves’ zero and the Thunder had 42 rebounds to the Wolves’ 26.
Among those rebounds, the Thunder pulled down 13 offensive rebounds to the Wolves’ six, the biggest coming from the hands of Steven Adams who corralled a rebound and put-back that essentially sealed the game for the Thunder with 26 seconds left.
Adams has had some huge games against the Wolves this season and tonight was no different. He scored a career-high 27 points on a perfect 11-for-11 shooting, and was 6-of-6 at the line. He also grabbed six rebounds and picked up a block and a steal apiece. Adams is 27-for-33 shooting against the Wolves and 10-for-10 at the line.
His three highest scoring outputs this season have all come against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves as well. Though it didn’t bite them in the first two games, he caught up with them in this one.
Despite the close final score and stat margins, the Thunder controlled much of the game and had ample opportunity to run away with this game. Both teams stormed out of the gate, with the Wolves shooting 65 percent and the Thunder shooting 60 percent after the first and the score 42-33 in favor of the Thunder.
In the second both teams started to play some defense, but the Thunder were able to pull away from the Wolves’ bench unit, taking a 21-point lead, which would be their largest.
Side note, the short-lived Wiggins-Butler minutes stagger that worked so well for a game was abandoned in the first half tonight. Thibs once again ran with his worst defensive lineup for a stretch, seemingly forgetting his revelation on Wednesday.
When the starters returned the Wolves managed to pull within 10 points. From there the Wolves kept chipping away at the lead, slowly getting it to within three points with enough time to strike.
Unfortunately late game execution was once again lacking. There was a near shot clock violation (Teague stepped out of bounds with less than a second on the clock), too many isolation plays with minimal action to set it up or behind the play, and lack of rebounding.
Minnesota had good stretches of basketball in this one, but not enough to win. They were fortunate to have a shot at winning this game.
Butler, Towns and Wiggins all scored at least 22 points for the Wolves. Towns went for 23 on 9-for-17 shooting with nine rebounds, two steals and one block. He knocked heads with Andre Roberson and required stitches around his eye, but was able to return mid-way through the second quarter.
His inability to secure the rebound that Adams caught to seal the game was a tough situation for him. He drew Roberson on a switch earlier in the play and as the shot went up was up against two Thunder players that were un-checked. It’s arguable he should have boxed out Adams, but it’s likely Roberson would have sneaked in in that case.
Wiggins finished with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-8 on 3-pointers and 3-for-6 at the line. He only had three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block, and he was torched by Paul George this time. It wasn’t Wiggins’ best game at all, though it’s still nice to see his shot falling.
Butler scored 22 points on 7-for-16 shooting with seven assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He saw a lot of time on Westbrook defensively and did a pretty solid job on him, particularly keeping him on the perimeter, forcing him to 0-of-8 from 3-point range and only four free throw attempts.
Jeff Teague returned with 11 points and 10 assists. He was a little too passive at times, and defensively wasn’t great, but did a good job at facilitating tonight and smartly force-fed Towns a number of times. Unfortunately Tyus was limited to 11 unproductive minutes..
It would probably be more beneficial if this were more of a time-share position as opposed to a Teague-dominated rotation, but Thibs will likely never be convinced.
The Wolves will head back home and take on the Clippers this Sunday. LA has been struggling mightily lately and recently lost Blake Griffen for an extended period.
Timberwolves’ two-way player Anthony Brown 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including 3-of-8 on 3-pointers. He grabbed five rebounds with one assist and one steal. If you thought Thibs ran his starters into the ground, Brown played 46 minutes tonight. Two other teammates played at least 45 and another played 40.
The former Stanford product is averaging 23.1 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.4 blocks on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 82.9 from the line in 43.2 minutes per game. He’s also hitting 2.6 threes per game on 40.4 percent.
The Iowa Wolves lost to the Wisconsin Herd 116-109 and are 2-7 on the season.