THUNDER 81
TIMBERWOLVES 100
9 Number of points and number of rebounds for Serge Ibaka on the night

10 Number of players who scored a field goal tonight for the Thunder

16 Points for Jeremy Lamb on 7-for-15 shooting, in addition to four rebounds and two assists

16-for-19 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, including 10-for-11 from the starters

41 Bench points for the Thunder on the night, including eight from Steven Adams, who also had eight rebounds

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Nov. 1st, 2013
RECAP:

MINNEAPOLIS – On certain nights in the NBA, especially on the road against a divisional foe, games can become uphill battles.

On the long road of the 82 game NBA schedule, the Thunder will learn many lessons and use each game, win or loss, to grow. Friday night’s 100-81 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves will certainly provide Head Coach Scott Brooks with a plethora of material to work with in the film room when the Thunder hits the practice floor on Saturday afternoon.

Shots didn’t fall all night long for the Thunder, who shot 35 percent from the field, while attempts seemingly rained in from all spots on the floor for Minnesota, who shot 43 percent and 40 percent from the three-point line. The lesson for the defensive-minded Thunder is to bring its intensity, focus and communication from the opening tip throughout the course of the game to prevent its opponent from getting hot early and riding that momentum the rest of the way.

“We take pride in the defensive end and we didn’t establish our defensive intensity,” Brooks said. “We didn’t have a defensive disposition tonight and that’s unacceptable for what we are.”

The Timberwolves took a 7-4 lead in the first quarter and never trailed again, using a 15-4 burst at the end of the period to propel itself to an eventual 20-point halftime advantage. 21 Thunder turnovers didn’t help along the way, and as leaders like Nick Collison noted after the game, taking care of the basketball and playing more effective, flowing offense will be the key to success.

“We have to play a better brand of basketball,” Collison said. “The offense has to be better. The passes, the cuts, we need to move the ball and get easier shots with ball movement.”

“We were giving a very good offensive team easy possessions by our turnovers,” Brooks explained. “We have to do a much better job of valuing the basketball.”

The Thunder scratched and clawed even as its shots rimmed out and the Timberwolves saw theirs fall, but by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Brooks’ squad trailed by 28. From that point on it was time for the younger part of the Thunder’s core like Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones and Steven Adams, to see significant court time.

Lamb and Kevin Durant paced the Thunder with 16 and 13 points respectively, while Serge Ibaka finished with a near double-double of nine points and nine rebounds. Ten of the 12 players who saw minutes for the Thunder scored a field goal, but its work on the defensive end will be what Brooks and company focuses on in the coming days.

As Durant noted before the game, defending Minnesota’s pick-and-roll was the team’s biggest challenge, and it proved true as Ricky Rubio dished out 10 assists, Kevin Love hit three threes en route to 24 points and Nikola Pekovic chipped in 15 points. Controlling that triumvirate was the focal point for the Thunder coming in, and learning from this game will be an opportunity for the Thunder to glean important teaching points in defending its tough divisional opponent.

“They’re catching those guys on the move and they’re good at catching and finishing,” Collison said. “They’ll move the ball around and find Kevin Love on the perimeter because his man has to help. Offensively they’re a really good basketball team.”

Friday night’s loss counts for just one in the stat sheet and the team will move on quickly by turning its attention to Sunday night’s home opener against the Phoenix Suns. As the Thunder continues to find its own rhythm and learn about itself and how it will need to execute on both ends of the floor, the team will exhibit its tenacious work ethic in practice, shoot-arounds, and the film room to be ready for the game floor.

“You just move forward to Sunday,” Kendrick Perkins said. “We just have to make sure we come ready to play on Sunday.”

TURNING POINT:

The Timberwolves took control of this one with a 15-4 run late in the first quarter. The Thunder trailed 19-12 with 4:22 remaining in the quarter when Minnesota went on its streak, which started with a Kevin Martin jumper. The Thunder then turned the ball over on three of its next four possessions, leading to two Timberwolves layups and two free throws. Nikola Pekovic then got an easy layup from Ricky Rubio, who later knocked down two free throws and found Derrick Williams for a dunk. Kevin Love hit a late free throw to make it 34-16 with 7.8 seconds remaining in the quarter. During the stretch the Thunder made one field goal and hit 2-of-4 free throws, while missing six shots and turning the ball over three times.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Excellent post defense by Kendrick Perkins to force Nikola Pekovic off of his spot and into a difficult missed hook shot. Great aggressiveness off the screen by Jeremy Lamb to drive straight to the hoop off of a pin-down screen. Nice awareness by Perry Jones on the defensive end to anticipate where a rebound was headed. Reggie Jackson hustles by diving on the floor for a loose ball to regain possession. Quick hands by Perkins to slap an entry pass away into the waiting hands of Serge ibaka.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Incredible hustle by Durant to fly back in transition defense and force a missed layup. Smart play by Sefolosha to stay in the backcourt and make a steal on an outlet pass. Strong defense by Durant to stay on his feet and then jump at the last minute to block a shot on a drive. Jeremy Lamb hustles back in transition to knock away a dribble drive.



“I’m worried about guys playing hard, competing hard and playing for your team every time down court. Tonight wasn’t the case. It’s early. We have a game right around the corner. We have to play much better.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks

!doctype>