Archives For Oklahoma City Thunder

shabazz-muhammad-timberwolves-hazing

Fully healthy, the Timberwolves would still not be as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have Russell Westbrook back, and he went for 34 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and could essentially get to the rim whenever he wanted by turning on the jets. The Thunder have eight players 6-10 or taller (if you count Durant, who is at least 6-10); the Wolves have one healthy player over 6-10 (Gorgui Dieng). No surprise, then, that Oklahoma City outrebounded Minnesota 47-30. The expected disparities were there: the Wolves took 7 3-pointers and made just one; the Thunder made 6 and took 23. If the Portland game the other night had everything going against the Blazers and for the Wolves — a genuine outlier — this was much more routine. Continue Reading…

Thunder

I can’t blame you if you’re hurt. I wouldn’t blame you if you see this game as yet another referendum on this team, on the bench, on Kevin Love, on Kevin Love shaving his beard, on Rick Adelman, on whatever. I’m probably not going to talk you out of anything right now, but please and try to remember: This was an absolutely awesome game of basketball to watch. Continue Reading…

The thud you heard at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter in Friday night’s blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was Ronny Turiaf fracturing the radial head of his right elbow. When a missed Jeremy Lamb missed a push shot in the lane and Ronny Turiaf went up for the rebound, Nick Collison came crashing in to keep the possession for OKC alive. Unfortunately, he crashed Turiaf more than he crashed the offensive glass and it resulted in a tough injury for the Wolves’ backup center.

Here’s the statement from the team regarding the injury:  Continue Reading…

It's a boy.

It’s a boy.

Something you hear a lot of commentators say is that the NBA is a “make or miss” league. I don’t get this. Or rather, I understand that the game is decided by who scores more points, and thus that the team that wins has—by design—made more shots than the other team. But is that all there is to this cliché? If anyone has some deeper insight to it, I’d appreciate it.

But another thing that makes a lot more sense to me that people often say is that the NBA is all about matchups. Consider this: This season, the Timberwolves have a winning percentage of .366, while the Thunder have a winning percentage of .726. And yet the season series between the two teams is even at 2-2. And last season—even though the Wolves were 0-3 against the Thunder—the games were hard fought. Minnesota lost their season opener to OKC 104-100 in 2011-12, and that was before anyone really knew what Rubio could do on a basketball court. And then, of course, there was that magnificent double overtime game in Oklahoma City that saw Barea and Durant notch triple doubles and Love score 51 while pulling down 14 rebounds. Continue Reading…

RubioBrook

It’s kind of the same old story this season, right?

The Wolves are talented enough to stay competitive with just about any team in the NBA, but they’re not healthy enough to overcome the wave of talent, execution, and production that a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder can throw at you. The Wolves need a special set of circumstances to overcome a team like the Thunder. They beat them earlier in the season, but had the luxury of a home environment at their disposal. They also had a balanced attack from a lot of the players, including J.J. Barea going nuts in the fourth quarter of that game.

This time, the bench carried the Wolves when the starters were largely ineffective. The Wolves got 59 points from four bench players, thanks to Barea, Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham, and Greg Stiemsma stepping up to the challenge. And this was kind of a long time coming from a few of these bench guys. For Alexey, it was the first real good game he’s had since the loss to Memphis. For Stiemer, he hadn’t really produced much since the win over New Orleans. For Dante, it was the first real good game since the loss to Portland.

On a night in which Nikola Pekovic was completely neutralized by the duo of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, the Wolves badly needed the bench to step up and keep things close until the starters could find a rhythm. The problem is the Wolves’ starters never found a rhythm. This often leads to the knee-jerk reaction of shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship, but I like the balance of the Wolves’ rotation based on what is available to Rick Adelman.  Continue Reading…

The Timberwolves are professional basketball players; moving on from tough losses is part of the job. The Wolves have four games in the next five days, two of them on the road, three of them against probable playoff teams. They’ll just have to figure it out. Still, its hard for me to imagine how they’ll manage to put this one behind them.

There is the obvious heartbreak of losing despite Kevin Love’s touched performance. There is the reality that four players played at least 44 minutes in a draining, fiercely competitive double-overtime game. And then there is the rather nauseating thought that if the Wolves had made a single play in the last 46 seconds of overtime, they would have won. If they could have rebounded James Harden’s three point miss; if they could have prevented Russ Westbrook from hitting that impossible midrange floater; if Love had not been called for that travel (which call, given the game’s intensity, the paucity of whistles in its last minutes and the relative insignificance of the little foot-shuffle, seems a little petty to me); if Love had switched harder onto Kevin Durant on that tying three; if J.J. Barea had hit that pristinely wide-open jumper at the buzzer…I don’t even want to get into Anthony Tolliver missing that uncontested doorstep layin, down by three with three minutes left in the second overtime. Anybody feel like playing another basketball game against another good team on Sunday?

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It’s hard to fault Corey Brewer for Kevin Durant’s utterly gonzo 47-point, 18-rebound spectacularium on Wednesday. Brewer ardently chased Durant all over the floor, worming his way around countless screens, recovering quickly to challenge every last shot. But Durant is a phenomenon. He plays a classic shooter’s game, running the baseline, curling off of screens, dropping subtle jab steps and hesitations, raising the ball above his head and calmly flicking his wrist with such miraculous economy that the movement itself is almost impossible to perceive. This would be an apt description of vintage Rip Hamilton except that Rip Hamilton is not 6’9″ with tentacles for arms (and he never was much of a three-point shooter). Brewer was the Wolves best defensive option against KD, and he never had a chance.

Corey’s admirable defensive effort was largely typical of the Wolves’ in this game, as was his solid shooting and tenacity on the boards. Unfortunately, Brewer’s game was typical in other ways too. Along with all of the great and surprising things the Wolves did came some devastating mistakes, some glaring and some subtle.

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