Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Timberwolves

THUNDER 104

TIMBERWOLVES 100
2 Victories by the Thunder in the 2011-12 season.

3 Steals by Russell Westbrook.

6 Times the game was tied.

9 Thunder players who scored.

11 Consecutive wins in the series for the Thunder.

13 Number of lead changes.

16 Points in the third quarter by Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

28 Points by Russell Westbrook.

33 Game-high point total by Durant. He is averaging 31.5 points in two games.

42 Total rebounds by the Thunder (34 defensive, 8 offensive).

44.8 Field goal percentage by the Timberwolves.

93.5 Thunder’s free-throw shooting percentage (29 of 31).

100 Free-throw percentage by Kendrick Perkins, whose two free throws with 3.0 seconds left sealed the victory.

The Thunder returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies in a rematch of the thrilling Western Conference semifinalists.

Game time is 7 p.m. and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

GAME IN REVIEW

RECAP:
Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks does not want to talk about the schedule, about the challenges of playing in Oklahoma City one night, Christmas night for that matter, and Minnesota the next.

In a shortened season, each of the 30 NBA teams is in the same position. The schedule is the schedule, he says; it’s up to the teams to deal with it.

So, less than 24 hours after defeating the Orlando Magic in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder found itself in Minneapolis for the Timberwolves’ season opener. The result? The Thunder fought its way to a 104-100 victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The Thunder shook off a sluggish start and took control with a 16-3 run in the second quarter, turning a 39-32 deficit into a 48-42 lead with 1:24 remaining in the half.

From there it was a test of wills, with the Thunder ultimately surviving thanks to timely baskets, clutch free-throw shooting (the Thunder was 29 of 31 from the line) and key defensive stops to move on to its next challenge: at Memphis on Wednesday.

THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN:
Kendrick Perkins, battling two Timberwolves with the game on the line, grabs the defensive rebound and is immediately fouled with 3.0 seconds to play.

Perkins drills both free throws at the other end, giving the Thunder a 104-100 lead and making it a two-possession game with

“It was a big defensive stop. Perk stepped up and made big free throws as well,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant said.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Perkins leaping to tap a loose ball to a teammate without falling out of bounds on a defensive stop. … Kevin Durant, boxing out on a defensive rebound, is fouled by Ricky Rubio and knocks down the two free throws for a 20-20 tie. … Eric Maynor drives hard through the lane, drawing two defenders to him, and then kicking off to James Harden in the corner for a 3 that closes the first quarter, 24-23. … Harden, with two defenders hanging on him, drives hard to the rim for a basket to break an 8-0 Wolves run. …

Nazr Mohammed steps in the lane, plants and draws a charge against the Wolves’ Wesley Johnson. … Perkins grabbing a defensive rebound, finding Durant with the outlet and he immediately finds Russell Westbrook for what becomes a three-point play. … Harden, using a hard drive and pump fake, throws an over-the-shoulder pass to Westbrook, who goes up and under for a basket. … Westbrook feeding Perkins on a fast-break, and big Perk sending a touch pass to Durant for a wide-open dunk and basket to cap a 16-4 Thunder run. … Westbrook drives hard in the lane, takes contact and makes a short jumper in the lane for 48-42 lead. … Westbrook, on the final basket of the half, leaves Luke Ridnour going the other way and on the floor on a cross-over move that leads to a 52-46 lead.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Durant, drawing defenders to him with a hard dribble drive, kicks off to Serge Ibaka on the wing for a jumper. … Westbrook steals the ball on the defensive end, keeps the ball in the center of the court and feeds Durant on a fast break. KD is fouled … With the Thunder up 65-55, Nick Collison drives a charge on Kevin Love. Thunder answers on the other end to build lead to 12. … Durant, driving hard in the lane, goes high, then drops the ball low under the outstretched arm of Darko Milicic and then spins the ball off the glass. … Collison feeds a bounce pass to Westbrook for an uncontested dunk and 91-86 lead. … Harden, drawing defenders to him on a hard drive in the lane, dishes to Perkins for a reverse layup. … Perkins, with the game on the line, sealing off two Wolves players for a defensive rebound. The big man is fouled and nails both free throws for a 104-100 lead.

QUOTABLE:
“We’ve always been a good shooting team at the line and we like to get there. We have to get there. … Our guys stepped up. Perk hit two big free throws and all of the guys have confidence to hit them.” – Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks.