The Oklahoma City Thunder looked competitive for the first two quarters tonight in Minnesota — taking a 47-47 tie into halftime on the second night of a road back-to-back. Then, as has been the case far too often this season, things got remarkably worse after halftime.
The Timberwolves outscored OKC by 16 points in the second half, watching as every Thunder player not named Russell Westbrook failed to answer the competitive bell. Jimmy Butler led the way for Minnesota with 26 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, pushing the T-Wolves to a 104-88 victory.
The loss is the Thunder’s third-consecutive and drops the overall record to 22-20. Back in action on Saturday afternoon (4:00 PM CT) in Charlotte.
Now for some notes.
40.5: The Thunder shot 40.5 percent from the floor — just 35 percent in the second half. Minnesota shot 48.3 percent for the game.
24: OKC shot 24 percent (6/25) from downtown. The T-Wolves hit 35 percent (7/20).
13: Just 13 assists for the Thunder tonight. Not ever going to get the job done.
20: OKC had 20 turnovers on the evening, resulting in 18 points for Minnesota.
11: The Thunder bench contributed 11 total points, seven of which came from Raymond Felton. Minnesota got 24 points out of their reserves.
1-3: With the win, Minnesota took the season-series against the Thunder. OKC finishes 1-3 against its Northwest Division rival — losing the tie-breaker in both the division and the Western Conference.
Third Quarter Strikes Again
The game was tied 47-47 at halftime, putting the Thunder in the precarious position of entering the third quarter with the contest up for grabs. The next 12 minutes of basketball featured the collapse and downfall of the Thunder’s effort.
Minnesota outscored OKC 29-18 in the third quarter, holding the Thunder to 6/21 shooting (28.6 percent) en route to a 76-65 advantage heading into the fourth. Despite Russell Westbrook’s best effort to turn the tide, the team never again drew close enough to make it truly interesting. Ball game.
Russell Westbrook’s Solo Act
The Thunder was lethargic in the first half but Russell Westbrook provided the spark that kept the team afloat. He shot 7/11 in the first two quarters, posting a 19-point, 9 rebound stat line at the half. With the game tied at that point, the hope was that his teammates would find rhythm and provide backup.
Westbrook finished the night with 38 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 4 turnovers — shooting 15/23 in his 35 minutes. Carmelo Anthony (15 pts, 5/19 FG) and Paul George (13 pts, 5/14 FG) combined to shot 10/33 for 28 total points.
Furthermore, the entire rest of the team outscored Westbrook by just 12 points. Check this out:
Westbrook: 38 points, 15/23 FG (65.2 percent)
Rest of Thunder: 50 points, 17/56 (30.4 percent)
There are many games where the “Westbrook did everything!” act feels a bit tired — that wasn’t the case tonight. He was everything that went right for OKC and didn’t receive anywhere close to the support he needed. It was a winning effort out of number zero — and a complete disappearing act from his running mates, namely George and Anthony.
Very little worth remembering in this one. If anything — Carmelo Anthony did this in the second quarter and proved he still has some juice in those 33-year-old legs.
Missing Andre Roberson. The Thunder is now 2-4 in the six games without Andre Roberson, putting to rest any sort of wild idea that the team would be better off without him. Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins feasted on offense, combining to score 45 points on 53.6 percent shooting. OKC needed Roberson on the wing and in their way.
The Big Men. 18 points and 12 rebounds for Karl Anthony-Towns. He got the best of Steven Adams, who posted 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Beginner’s Luck. Terrance Ferguson has cratered back to earth after a solid start to his time in the starting lineup. He wrapped up tonight with 3 points on 1/7 shooting — 1/6 from downtown.
Back to the Drawing Board. The Thunder has lost five of its last seven games — a far-cry from the team that won 12 of the 15 games prior to this stretch. There’s still plenty of time to get back on track but the halfway point of the season has come and gone. There are still far too many nights that end without any of the players ever looking like they’re having much fun. Very, very far to go.