THUNDER 93
T'WOLVES 99
4 Steals by Thabo Sefolosha, part of 10 steals by the entire team

5 Blocked shots by Serge Ibaka on the night, in addition to 14 points and nine rebounds

6 Points the Thunder outscored the Timberwolves by in quarters 2-4

21-6 Advantage in fast break points for the Thunder over the Timberwolves

22-for-26 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night, including 8-for-8 by Kevin Durant

24:30 Minutes played by Reggie Jackson tonight, a season-high

30 Points for Russell Westbrook in addition to 11 rebounds and nine assists

33 Points for Kevin Durant tonight in addition to seven rebounds and six assists

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Thunder hits the road, it knows it’s destined for a battle on every single possession.

On Thursday night that’s exactly what Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team got when it squared off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves struck first with a 30-18 margin after one quarter, but the Thunder battled back throughout the rest of the game, eventually cutting Minnesota’s lead to one point before the Timberwolves responded with a 12-2 run. That spurt kept the Thunder at bay, and Brooks’ squad eventually fell 99-93, despite a valiant effort, ending the team’s 12-game win streak.

“I knew that was going to be the case, I knew that we would fight until the very end,” Brooks said. “That’s what we do. I’m proud of our guys. We had a great streak, a great month going, but we lost to a very good team. We knew sooner or later they were going to get hot, and they got hot tonight.”

The Timberwolves, who entered the game as the league’s worst three-point shooting team at just under 30 percent, shot 5-for-9 from deep in the first half on its way to a nine-point halftime advantage. In the second half the Thunder buckled down, fixed some rotations in its pick-and-roll defense and generally played tougher on the defensive side of the floor. It ultimately wasn’t quite enough, but it did allow the Thunder to get back into the game.

“I thought we got much more active on the basketball and in the passing lanes,” Brooks said. “Our hands were involved in our defense. They only had seven assists in the second half. They got too many offensive rebounds. That’s something we have to always work on and talk about.”

The Thunder started to get back into this one slowly and surely, chipping away in the second quarter behind strong rebounding by Nick Collison and solid play by second-year man Reggie Jackson. The latter was filling in for Kevin Martin who sat out of this contest with a right thigh contusion that he sustained in Wednesday night’s Thunder victory at Atlanta. The duo of Collison and Jackson combined to play 43 minutes and seven seconds in tonight’s game as Collison had six rebounds and Jackson chipped in four points. It was valuable road game experience for Jackson who is still developing. In addition, it was an opportunity for the Thunder to learn and grow as well.

“I thought Nick does what he always does, he fights, he battles, he claws for everything he gets,” Brooks said. “Reggie came in and he was solid. He didn’t make too many mistakes, he played hard and he did a lot of good things. That’s something that we can look at and see how we can improve his game and the team.”

One certainty about the Thunder is that each game, win or loss is treated as a learning experience. Tonight’s lesson revolves around bringing defensive intensity and execution from the opening tip and also dealing with a long-distance road back-to-back. While the Thunder can utilize tonight’s game as a teaching tool for the future, Brooks made sure to credit the Timberwolves, who gave the Thunder all it had in a tough environment.

“We’re not going to win every game,” Brooks said. “They played better than us tonight. That’s the only thing we can say. They played a better basketball game tonight for 48 minutes.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder cut the Timberwolves lead to only one point after a Reggie Jackson driving layup made it 76-75 with 10:03 remaining in the game, but the Timberwolves led by JJ Barea responded with a 12-2 run over a three minute span that turned the game back into Minnesota’s favor. Barea hit a pull up jumper after the Thunder played a great defensive possession but allowed an offensive rebound, then Andrei Kirilenko hit two free throws. Kevin Durant responded with two free throws, but Barea caught fire, scoring eight straight points on two three-pointers at the end of the shot clock and a driving runner that he recovered after it was blocked by Jackson.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Nice awareness by Westbrook to see a trailing Serge Ibaka in the lane for a bounce pass and a dunk. Quick hands by Westbrook to poke the ball away on a Ricky Rubio drive, then great vision to spy Durant under the hoop. Nice play by Thabeet getting back against the pick-and-roll to knock the potential pass away. Incredible hustle by Sefolosha to track down a loose ball after a missed shot. Good patience and unselfishness by Perkins to wait on Westbrook diving to the basket.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Durant does an incredible job of scrambling on the defensive end to knock the ball away numerous times before eventually making a steal and starting a fast break. Ibaka playing really tough underneath the hoop to grab a big rebound. Great speed by Westbrook and Sefolosha to create a two-on-one fast break, that Sefolosha finished off through contact. Westbrook soars up high for an offensive rebound and tips it to himself. Suffocating defense by Jackson on Rubio forces a turnover.



““We fought. I don’t think we have to take much from it other than we knew what we were going to do. We were going to fight and that’s what we do.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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