Scouting Report: Wolves (1-0) vs. Thunder (1-0) | Nov. 1, 2013

Scouting Report: Wolves (1-0) vs. Thunder (1-0) | Nov. 1, 2013


Timberwolves vs. Thunder | 7 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

By watching past games of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves, you would think these teams are forming some sort of rivalry. That might be the case, but Oklahoma City has made a few playoff appearances, including an NBA Finals appearance.

The Wolves have not, but Kevin Love and his crew hope to change that this season. Tonight will be a big test for the Wolves, even if it is just the second game of the season. Minnesota and OKC face off at Target Center, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Friday night will be the first time shooting guard Kevin Martin will play the Thunder since being traded to the Wolves during the offeason. Martin, traded to OKC in the Dwight Howard deal, averaged 14 points per game while coming off the bench for the Thunder.

The Thunder will be without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who is recovering from knee surgery. While the roster doesn’t look as intimidating as it once did with the three-headed monster of Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant, the Thunder are still expected to be one of the top teams in the West.

Our sources tell us this Durant guy is still pretty good.

Last Meeting

The two squads last faced off on March 29 of the 2012-13 season and Minnesota came away with a 101-93 home victory. The Wolves joined the Spurs, Nuggets, Heat, and Grizzlies as one of five teams to beat the Thunder twice last season.

All of those teams besides Minnesota made the playoffs last season.

The Wolves were without Kevin Love, but the rest of the roster stepped up its game. Most notable was center Nikola Pekovic who finished with a team-high 22 points to go along with a game-high 15 rebounds. Point guard Ricky Rubio scored 17 points and dished out seven assists. Wingman Chase Budinger scored 13 points off the bench while Andrei Kirilenko (now with Nets) and Luke Ridnour (now with Bucks) scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Durant had a game-high 36 points, but didn’t get much help from his teammates. Point guard Russell Westbrook finished with 18 points and a game-high nine assists. Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka finished with 10 points each, but other than that, no player scored more than eight points for Oklahoma City.

The Wolves outrebounded the Thunder 46-41 and forced 16 turnovers compared to committing just 10.

The teams split the four-game series during the 2012-13 season.

Wolves Minute: Nov. 1, 2013

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This Week’s Results

Both teams were involved in nail-biters to start out the season.

The Timberwolves came away with a 120-115 overtime win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. Minnesota led by as much as 17 points at one point, but slowly let the Magic back into the game and eventually, the Magic held a three-point lead with 10 seconds left in the game.

The fan section went through more emotions than a teenager watching “The Notebook.” Kevin Love hit a game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and the Wolves outscored the Magic 17-12 in the extra period to snag their first win of the season.

Love finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Wolves. Despite starting off slow, Martin came around, finishing with 23 points, including seven points in the extra period. Wingman Corey Brewer finished with 16 points and three steals while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. Rubio had an up-and-down game. He finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points to go along with 11 assists, but shot just 5-of-15 from the field. Both J.J. Barea and Pekovic scored 11 points, while Dante Cunningham added 10.

The Wolves got a nice jumpstart, scoring 38 points in the first quarter. The 38 first quarter points are the most the Wolves have scored in a first quarter since scoring 40 at Portland on March 3, 3012. The 38 points are also the most ever for Minnesota in a first quarter on Opening Night, surpassing the 35 they scored at Houston on Oct. 31, 2000.

The Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 101-98 behind 42 points from Durant. Durant was just 9-of-24 from the field, but was 22-of-24 from the free-throw line. The rest of his teammates got to the line a combined nine times.

Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson both added 14 points, but no other Thunder player scored more than eight points.

There wasn’t a lot of ball movement for the Thunder. Oklahoma City had just nine assists compared to Utah’s 25, but the All-Star forward proved too much for the young Utah squad.

What To Watch: Kevin Love and Kevin Durant

For the second straight game, we have matchups of players with the same first name. On Wednesday we discussed the matchup between Nikola Vucevik and Nikola Pekovic.

While these two do share the same first names, they do not share the same positions. Love is at the power forward, while Durant plays the 3. The two players are regarded as two of the best players in all of basketball and the matchups between their two squads have been brilliant over the past few seasons.

Love played in just one game against OKC last season, but made the most of it, leading the Wolves to a 101-93 win behind 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. In his last three games against the Thunder, Love is averaging 33.7 points and 13.3 rebounds, including his record-setting 51-point performance during the 2011-12 season.

In four contests against the Wolves last season, Durant averaged 30.5 points and seven rebounds per game.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without Budinger, who is out while recovering from preseason left knee surgery. Westbrook is out indefinitely with a knee injury. After serving a one-game suspension on Wednesday, center Hasheem Thabeet is eligible to return tonight against the Wolves.

Probable Starters
  Timberwolves Thunder
PG Ricky Rubio Reggie Jackson
SG Kevin Martin Thabo Sefolosha
SF Corey Brewer Kevin Durant
PF Kevin Love Serge Ibaka
C Nikola Pekovic Kendrick Perkins


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.