Wolves' D Clamps Down On Thunder, Leads To 100-81 Win

Wolves' D Clamps Down On Thunder, Leads To 100-81 Win

Recent matchups between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been extremely entertaining and Friday night’s game between the two Western Conference foes was no exception… if you were a Minnesota Timberwolves fan that is.

Going into the game, we knew Minnesota could score points, but on Friday night, defense was key during the team’s 100-81 win over the Thunder.

“I think we had the ability to defend people,” said Wolves head coach Rick Adelman. “If we follow the game plan and everyone works at it and we do what we need to do we will be ok.”

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Wolves vs. Thunder

Like Opening Night, the Wolves opened the game up hot, leading OKC 34-19 after the first 12 minutes.

The story of the quarter was the foul trouble for both teams. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant each had two fouls, while rookie Steven Adams had three. With Durant off the floor for the final 3:03 of the quarter, the Thunder offense di looked a little lost. This would continue throughout the game. Without Russell Westbrook (knee) as well, there weren’t a lot of creators for Oklahoma City.

After the first, Nikola Pekovic led all scorers with eight points, while Corey Brewer had seven. Kevin Love was on his way to another double-double, scoring seven points and hauling in six rebounds.

Durant had just five points at the end of the first.

The big news in the second quarter was the 2013-14 debut of tweener Derrick Williams. There was a lot of talk in the basketball world after Williams didn’t appear in Wednesday’s game against Orlando. The former No. 2 pick made the most of his first appearance, finishing with six points at the break, including two very nice cutting dunks.

The beast that is Durant stayed relatively quiet in the second, scoring just six more points. A big part of that was due to Brewer’s defense on Durant.

“He knew what he had to face,” Adelman said. “He (Durant) is such a tough cover and Corey got a cheap foul in the first quarter. You have to make him make shots. You can’t just let him score, you have to make him work for it.”

The good news is the Wolves went into the break with a demanding 59-39 lead. The bad news was that with 10:17 left in the second quarter, backup center Ronny Turiaf went down hard while trying to grab a defensive board. The thump was heard throughout the arena and Target Center instantly went quiet. He was taken back to the locker room and Wolves rookie Gorgui Dieng replaced him in the rotation. Turiaf did not return with a right elbow contusion.

At the break, Love led all scorers with 14 points to go along with eight boards, Pekovic had 10 points and five rebounds and helped the Wolves dominate inside, outrebounding the Thunder 27-19.

Durant had just 11 points for the Thunder, and OKC shot just 34.1 percent from the field.

The second half was more of the same. The Wolves outscored the Thunder 29-21 in the third quarter and the fourth quarter had the feel of a preseason game to it. The starters took a seat, while Robbie Hummel and Shabazz Muhammad made their career-debuts. They were a combined 0-of-4 from the field, results in no points. Hummel did have two rebounds.

The Wolves had three double-doubles on Friday night.

Love led all players with 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Pekovic finished with 15 points while hauling in 10 rebounds. Rubio scored 14, shooting 2-of-3 from the 3-point line, while dishing out 10 assists and ending with five steals. Both Williams and Alexey Shved scored 10 points off the bench. Jeremy Lamb led Oklahoma City with 16 points. Durant has 13 while shooting 4-of-11. Two days after shooting 24 free throws against the Utah Jazz, Durant had just five attempts on Friday night.

“Obviously they had less of their important people,” Adelman said. “We wanted somebody else to beat us tonight. We weren’t going to have him (Durant) get that many looks.”

The Wolves weren’t great from the field, shooting 42.9 percent, but the real story was their defense, as they held the Thunder to just 34.9 percent from the field.

“We thought we did a really good job in containing Kevin Durant,” Love said. “You know, that’s going to be good for us heading into Sunday because we know we have another player who is a top scorer in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony.”

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

He makes it look so easy, he doesn’t even make a double-double seem like much of an accomplishment anymore. Love finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from the 3-point line.

Audio: Kevin Love with Alan Horton

His +26 was second on the team, trailing only Rubio’s +/- mark of +29.

“(When) Kevin Love started making the 3-ball, we opened things up,” Brewer said.

Highlight of the Night

With 1:52 left in the half, Kevin Martin led a fast break on the left side of the court. He passed the ball across the court to a sprinting Brewer and he found a trailing Kevin Love up the middle for a dunk to give the Wolves commanding 54-34 lead. It was the loudest the crowd had gotten in the game up to that point. It sounds like Wolves could get used to the new additions to the team.

The Numbers Game

  • The Wolves outscored the Thunder 44-20 in the paint.

  • Minnesota had 17 fast-break points compared to Oklahoma City’s mark of two.

  • Rubio’s first nine assists results in four 3-pointers, four layups and two 2-point jumpers.

  • The last time Durant scored 13 points or less was on Dec. 31, 2011.

  • Friday marked third time Love, Rubio and Pekovic have all had a double-double in same game. It was the first since Feb. 3, 2012.

  • Quote of the Night

    “My goal is to always hold them under 20, so it’s good tonight. He didn’t get 20.” – Corey Brewer on holding All-Star forward Kevin Durant to just 13 points.

    Next Up

    The Timberwolves hit the road to play Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North Plus and WCCO 830-AM. The Wolves split last season’s two-game series against the Knicks.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com