Focus Will Be There Against Short-Handed T'Wolves Tonight

Oklahoma City Thunder players and coaches say their full focus and attention will be on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight despite the T-Wolves record and the fact that their star player, Kevin Love, is back in Minneapolis rehabbing a strained groin.

“Yeah, it’s very important that we lock in tonight,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks, “and not only focus on their team but also on the individual challenges that you have. We’ve got to know their personnel. This is an offensive rebounding team, this is a 3-point shooting team. Our guys have to understand who they’re guarding and where they are on the floor and take away their strengths.”

Some of those strengths were on display in Dallas last night. The T-Wolves pushed the Mavericks all the way to end before falling 104-96. The timing of that game should be good for Oklahoma City’s players serving to get their attention as they prep for Minnesota.

“That game last night is a very powerful indicator that you have to take every team serious,” said Brooks. “You gotta come out with great intensity and a lot of energy. That game could have gone either way, the last two minutes it was anybody’s game. They have a lot of young, talented players.”

Minnesota forward Anthony Randolph started in place of the injured Kevin Love and had Love-like numbers, 31 points and 11 rebounds.

“With Love being out he (Randolph) is gonna get the opportunity he wants and last night he looked as good as any player in the league at that spot. He’s a talented kid. He puts it on the floor, he can score around the basket. Serge (Ibaka) is gonna have to really focus in on his abilities because last night shows he can put up a big game.”

Randolph is 6-11, 225 and despite the big numbers against Dallas he is averaging just 4.4 ppg and 2.9 rpg for the season.

The Thunder defense, somewhat porous at times this season, has been stingy lately allowing teams less than 90 points a game over the last seven outings.

“It’s (the defense) is good,” Brooks acknowledged, “it’s consistent, we’re playing hard for 48 minutes but we still have to keep doing it and keep improving at it and take that mentality each game and focus on it. Our offense needs a little tune-up here and there but our defense is good.”

Tip-off tonight inside Oklahoma City Arena is set for 7 p.m. You can watch all the action on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.

• The Thunder is 10-2 in March and 12-2 in games played on Friday night.
• Oklahoma City’s defense has been outstanding lately, limiting opponents to just 87.7 points over the last seven contests.
• Minnesota has lost eight straight games to the Thunder including three in a row in Oklahoma City. The T-Wolves are 5-31 on the road this season.
• During that eight game winning streak Thunder two-time All-Star Kevin Durant is averaging 32.9 points on 50.9% shooting. KD is also pulling down 9.9 rebounds a game during the streak.
• Thunder guard James Harden has scored in double figures for 17 consecutive games, a career-long streak.